Hampden Park. The place the Ukrainian crew wrote its historical past by qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Euro. It was June 29, 2021, on the expense of Sweden, crucified by Artem Dovbyk in further time. Zbirna will return to Glasgow and their stadium this Wednesday to tackle Scotland. In a really totally different context from final summer time.
This World Cup play-off semifinal in Qatar was as a result of happen in March. However the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian military compelled a postponement. 98 days after the beginning of the offensive, the dying toll within the tens of 1000’s and greater than six million individuals have fled the nation in keeping with the United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees. It’s towards this dramatic backdrop that Oleksandr Zinchenko and his teammates step ahead for an important match towards Scotland.
Slovenia, a land of welcome
The final official match of Zbirna dates again to November 16: victory in Bosnia Herzegovina (0-2) on the final day of qualification for the World Cup. She completed second in Group D, behind the Blues, who have been held in examine twice by the identical rating (1-1). The worldwide March window was logically skipped. Then it was time to get organized and take into consideration the results.
Coach Oleksandr Petrakov rallied his troops on Could 1 in Slovenia, in Brdo, to start a retreat with round twenty gamers, all from Ukrainian golf equipment and subsequently disadvantaged of competitors since mid-December, when the league entered within the winter break. To higher put together for the fundraising for the inhabitants, they performed friendlies towards the Germans of Borussia Mönchengladbach, the Italians of Empoli then the Croats of Rijeka, with a file of two wins and a draw.
They have been hoping to play one other one, however they needed to change the tune. On Could 26, nevertheless, an settlement was reached for an opposition with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Nevertheless, the African choice “refused on the final second for causes identified to them”, commented Petrakov, specifying: “There was a suggestion from Lithuania to play a house sport, however on a man-made pitch, which might give us The Malta crew was additionally able to play, however on Could 27 or 28, that [était] too late for us. There have been choices, however for some purpose they did not work for us. “
Inner opposition to mimic Scotland
The coach was subsequently glad with the means out there, dividing his group in two and organizing a match on the coaching heart of the Slovenian federation. A 90-minute opposition, methodically ready, one of many two groups answerable for enjoying in probably the most “Scottish” method attainable. 22 gamers participated. “I preferred the best way they performed, Petrakov welcomed. We modeled Scottish techniques. A crew performed in 3-5-2 or 3-4-3, additionally working notably on kicks. The sport resulted in a draw, I preferred it. “
The lights are inexperienced as a lot as attainable. The group has additionally been progressively expanded by the arrival of gamers who play outdoors the Ukrainian league, reminiscent of Eduard Sobol (Membership Bruges) or Oleksandr Zinchenko (Manchester Metropolis).
“Rather more than only a sport”
If profitable on Wednesday, Ukraine will supply a closing towards Wales in Cardiff on Sunday. And so they can subsequently formally be a part of England, Iran and the USA in Group B of the World Cup. It will be his second participation within the World Cup, after that of 2006. And, above all, a terrific victory for a whole nation. “It’s way more than only a match, it’s an occasion that the entire nation will comply with by all attainable means, reminiscent of radio or the Web”, govt Andrew Todos.
The 26-year-old freelance journalist, born in London with Ukrainian roots, created in 2019 the site of Zorya Londonsk, which covers soccer information from its house nation in English. “This match is an indication of energy,” he continues. This reveals that Ukraine is standing, that it nonetheless exists. An illustration of resilience.
Nevertheless, it isn’t straightforward to wager on a soccer match when the combating continues to rage, particularly round Severodonetsk, within the Lugansk area. “We now have to evacuate all extraneous ideas, however we see the knowledge, we name our household and associates, we’re conscious of the scenario, slips Andriy Pyatov, emblematic Shakhtar goalkeeper. Each day is totally different. Generally it’s regular, generally you’re fearful, as a result of the rockets fly on a regular basis and pose a risk, even to youngsters. I hope that every thing goes nicely and that we’ll be in fine condition for the match. “
Petrakov himself needed to hitch the house protection firstly of the invasion, however was pushed again. “It will be dangerous if I ran away from the town the place I used to be born, the 60-year-old instructed the American weekly Time. However they stated: “You might be too previous and you haven’t any army expertise. As an alternative, you higher take us to the World Cup.” “
Messages from the troopers
One other battle effort, additionally obligatory. “They’re ambassadors of Ukraine on the sphere, they carry the nation on their shoulders, Andrew Todos is dedicated. It is going to be tough, Scotland are very ready however the Ukrainian crew is motivated. The troopers despatched messages saying “we’re combating on the entrance line, don’t fret, deal with the sport”. Ukraine has by no means been so united. “
West Ham striker Andriy Yarmolenko sums up the final vibe: “You need to give individuals some pleasure, in order that provides energy. After all, the fellows noticed the decision from our army. I am unable to assure we’ll go to the World Cup. however I promise we are going to give every thing for this. “
Based on Andrew Todos, round 3,000 Ukrainians will attend the assembly at Hampden Park (52,000 seats): refugees who’ve obtained free tickets, in addition to members of the diaspora, a few of them from the USA and Canada. However this Wednesday, Zinchenko and his teammates will play for greater than 40 million individuals. “The Ukrainian crew desires to present Ukrainians unimaginable feelings as a result of they deserve it proper now,” the Metropolis defender stated at a press convention on Tuesday night, earlier than bursting into tears.