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Ukrainian soldiers have only one request: ‘Go see the World Cup’

11 May 2022 | 08:15 | Football


Soccer football - Ukraine training - Brdo pri Kranju, Slovenia - May 6, 2022 Ukrainian players during training

Soccer football – Ukraine training – Brdo pri Kranju, Slovenia – May 6, 2022 Ukrainian players during training REUTERS / Borut Zivulovic

LJUBLJANA—- Ukraine will go all out to ensure they win the World Cup playoffs as the soldiers repelling the Russian invasion want the team to do whatever it takes to qualify, midfielder Taras Stepanenko said on Friday.

Ukraine, who last played against Bosnia & Herzegovina in a 2-0 win in November, face Scotland in a World Cup playoff semi-final on June 1, with the winners going up to Wales for a place. attend the final in Qatar later this year .

Ukraine will play a friendly against Bundesliga side Borussia Moenchengladbach on May 11 in their first match since the February invasion, which Moscow calls a “special operation”.

“Every day we receive messages from our soldiers. So many soldiers, so many Ukrainians love football and they (have) only one request: ‘Do all you can to get to the World Cup,'” Stepanenko told a news conference.

“Because for the country, for them, it was like a moment of hope. It will be like a celebration for the country. That’s why we have to play, not just a ball game, we have to play with our soul, with our whole heart.

“This is very, very important. It will be very emotional for my country, for our players and for all of Ukraine.”

The whole team is currently training in Slovenia and Stepanenko said it was not easy for them when they read about the situation in Ukraine on the news.

“Every day you see photos, videos of what’s happened in my country and every time we talk about these guys, it’s hard sometimes,” he added.

“But we understand how much this game means to us and we have to do everything we can to try as hard as we can.”

With the Ukrainian Premier League suspended because of the invasion, head coach Oleksandr Petrakov said they must prepare for the friendly like any other official match as they have not had any practice matches in many months.

“We don’t have any official matches right now and we don’t have an internal championship because of the war, so the most important thing for our boys is to give their all for these games. ,” I said.

“Not like a friendly match, but more like an official match, because that’s the only chance for us to prepare well.”

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