“We never give up”: how Ukraine dreams of a world championship even during the war

Alexander Zinchenko is hard to calm down. “I’m shaking inside,” a spokesman for the Ukrainian national team said BBC. The excitement of a 25-year-old boy these days is the result of non-shocking reports from his homeland suffering from the war of aggression in Russia. On the other hand. Zinchenko wants to enter the World Cup in Qatar with Ukraine and “smile for a few seconds” for his compatriots.


Wednesday (8:45 p.m./DAZN [Anzeige]) Ukraine will clash with Scotland in Hampden Park in Glasgow. If Zinchenko and Co. win the first match since the start of the war in late February, they will play for the final ticket to the European World Cup in Wales on Sunday. “This game is one of the most important in my life. The guys look ready and there is no need to talk about motivation at all,” Zinchenko said. At the World Cup, his team will meet England, Iran and the United States.

It is still a distant dream. And even if the Ukrainian players are highly motivated and certainly have the support of all the neutral fans of the world, Scotland will simply not accept their fate. In addition, the team’s preparation was not normal according to the situation. The team has been training in Slovenia in recent days at the invitation of UEFA President Alexander Ceferin, but the fate of the families has made it difficult for many to focus on football. Also, some professionals don’t play the game for months. “However, there are no excuses in this case,” Zinchenko emphasized.

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Yarmolenko: “It’s so hard to think about football now”

Profession from City of Manchester knows what it feels like to be a folk hero in his homeland. Last summer, the blond guy led an outsider to the eighth final of the European Championship with one goal and one result. Even less than a year later, photos from that time seem to come from other times. “When the war broke out, it was hard to focus on football,” Zinchenko said. All his thoughts were with the Ukrainians. So it was with him teammate Andriy Jarmolenko plays for West Ham. (32): “It’s so hard to think about football right now. The Russian military is killing people in Ukraine every day.”

The game in Scotland and a possible culmination in Wales should certainly be a sign for Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Ukraine is still alive. Ukraine will fight to the end. This is our mentality. We never give up,” – stressed Zinchenko. Words that could also have come from its president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Hampden Park will probably lack a lot of support in the stands. Ukrainian men are not allowed to leave their homeland due to the war, Ukrainian deportees living in Great Britain are expected. T-shirt the team recently benefits in the game Mönchengladbache to wear in the playoffs for a political message. So Zinchenko and his teammates will play with the T-shirt of the last European Championship. A piece of the peaceful and joyful past.

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