Former Israel coach Merimovich dies

JERUSALEM - Joseph Merimovich, who led Israel to the Asian championship title in the 1960s, has died aged 86, the country's Football Association said on Thursday.

Merimovich, born in Cyprus in 1924, earned 14 caps as a striker for the fledgling national team both before the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948 and afterwards.

He played for Maccabi Tel Aviv and won six league titles and six State Cups. After retiring he coached the club.

Merimovich had two spells as national team coach. In his first, he led Israel to the Asian title in 1964, still the most important silverware the Jewish state's national side has won.

In 1994 Israel joined the European fold after political boycotts meant few Asian countries would play them. Merimovich returned to coach the national team again in 1980.