UEFA EURO 2012 Team Preview – Ukraine

Population 48.4 million Area 603,628km2 Capital Kiev Currency Hryvnia Official Language Ukrainian

FOOTBALL FACTFILE

Football Asocciation HФедерація Футболу України (FFU) Official Site http://www.ffu.org.ua Year of formation 1991 Euro Ranking 30 World Ranking 52 National Stadium Olimpiysky Stadium, Kiev Well-known club sides Dynamo Kiev, Shakhtar Donetsk, FC Metalist Kharkiv Leading goalscorers Andriy Shevchenko (46+), Serhiy Rebrov (15), Serhiy Nazarenko (12) Most capped players Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (112+), Andriy Shevchenko (108+), Oleksandr Shovkovskiy (90+) European Championship finals attended N/A Best European Championship performance First appearance Playing Record in European Championship P42 W16 D13 L13 Odds of winning UEFA EURO 2012 40/1

JOURNEY TO POLAND/UKRAINE

Qualifying automatically as one of the host nations, Ukraine’s footballing history is one of the shortest there is.

The country was only officially recognised as an independent footballing nation in 1991, before this date it had been an abundant resource for the Soviet Union, which won the inaugural tournament in 1960 and finished as runners-up in 1964, 1977 and 1988.

Even with their new-found independence, Ukrainian Football Federation failed to secure recognition in time to compete in the 1994 FIFA World Cup and, as a result, some of their brightest talent chose to play for Russia in these early years.

Starting in late 1994 as, essentially, international novices, the country produced some auspicious talent, the pick of which was celebrated Dynamo Kiev strikeforce of Andriy Shevchenko and Serhiy Rebrov, a pairing that did more than its fair share to put Ukraine on the football map.

It remained an uphill battle, but, after several unsuccessful qualifying campaigns, the 2006 FIFA World Cup finally saw Ukraine perform on the largest international stage of all.

Led by their current manager, Oleg Blokhin, they surpassed all expectations, making it to the last eight of the tournament before defeat at the hands of eventual winners, Italy.

Turning to this summer’s tournament, the Ukrainians, unsurprisingly, find themsevles the underdogs in a tricky Group D and will do incredibly well to qualify for the last 8. Though they are a long shot, if football-tournament history has taught us anything it is that partisan crowds and host-nation stats can give you a real boost.

The cauldron-like atmospheres of Kiev and Donetsk will surely work in Ukraine’s favour and, coupled with a bit of lick and the mettle they displayed in 2006. Blokhin’s outfit could well deliver a few surprises. England, be warned.

HOW THEY GOT THERE

Qualified as hosts.

HOME AND AWAY KITS

 

GROUP FIXTURES – GROUP D

Sunday, 11/06 – Ukraine v Sweden (Kiev, 19:45)
Friday, 15/06 – Ukraine v France (Donetsk, 17:00)
Tuesday, 19/06 – England v Ukraine (Donetsk, 19:45)

FINAL SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Oleksandr Goryainov (FC Metalist Kharkiv), Maxym Koval (FC Dynamo Kyiv), Andriy Pyatov (FC Shakhtar Donetsk).

Defenders: Bohdan Butko (FC Illychivets Mariupil), Olexandr Kucher (FC Shakhtar Donetsk), Taras Mikhalik (FC Dynamo Kyiv), Yaroslav Rakitskiy (FC Shakhtar Donetsk), Yevhen Selin (FC Vorskla Poltava), Yevhen Khacheridi (FC Dynamo Kyiv), Vyacheslav Shevchuk (FC Shakhtar Donetsk).

Midfielders: Olexandr Aliyev (FC Dynamo Kyiv), Denys Garmash (FC Dynamo Kyiv), Oleh Gusev (FC Dynamo Kyiv), Yevhen Konoplyanka (FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk), Serhiy Nazarenko (SC Tavriya Simferopol), Ruslan Rotan (FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk), Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (FC Bayern München), Andriy Yarmolenko (FC Dynamo Kyiv).

Forwards: Andriy Voronin (FC Dinamo Moskva), Marko Dević (FC Shakhtar Donetsk), Artem Milevskiy (FC Dynamo Kyiv), Yevhen Seleznyov (FC Shakhtar Donetsk), Andriy Shevchenko (FC Dynamo Kyiv).

THE CAPTAIN – ANDRIY SHEVCHENKO

Possibly an even greater Ukrainian export that the chicken Kiev, Andriy Shevchenko is considered the greatest player in his nation’s footballing history. The 35-year-old has netted 46 times in 105 international games and is determined to go out with a bang. A former Ballon d’Or winner, if Ukraine is to progress beyond the groups they will need ‘Sheva’ to lead the charge.

THE KEEPER – ANDRIY PYATOV

Part of the 2006 FIFA World Cup squad, Pyatov replaced veteran keeper Olexandr Shovkovskiy for Ukraine’s 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign. Though the side didn’t make it to South Africa, Pyatov has been a firm fixture in the Ukrainian goal since. Currently safeguarding the Shakhtar Donetsk net, Pyatov’s experience against European elite will be invaluable.

STAR MAN – ANDRIY YARMOLENKO

Should the Ukrainians’ nightmare of losing Andriy Shevchenko to injury be realised, they will be relying on young Andriy Yarmolenko to pose their potent attacking threat. The 22-year-old scored on his full international debut against Andorra and his dominant physique and clinical finishing ability has resulted in him being dubbed ‘the new Sheva’ by a handful of journalists. Has bagged a few goals for the first XI, underlined his credentials with a tidy finish in a recent friendly with Germany and will be looking to build on his reputation this summer.

THE MANAGER – OLEG BLOKHIN

Despite scepticism surrounding his appointment in 2003, Oleg Blokhin led Ukraine to their hugely impressive World Cup quarter-final finish in 2006/ He left a year later, after failing to qualify for UEFA EURO 2008, but in April last year he took the helm once more. Not short on confidence he recently said: ‘Our job is to win the Euros, but we should remember there are at least 10 other very strong contenders.’ Blokhin has served two terms in the Ukrainian parliament and was the first Ukrainian to win the Ballon d’Or, in 1975.

TOURNAMENT PREDICTION

Group Stage – Ukraine are in a very tricky Group D and it will be a very tough task if they are to finish anywhere but bottom. Having the home support behind them and the experience of Shevchenko and Tymoshchuk and the potential of Yarmolenko might be their only chance of making it through to the quarters. The hosts will be hoping that the France will put in a similar performance as they did in the UEFA EURO 2008 and 2010 FIFA World Cup and will also hope that England would struggle to cope up with their recent injuries and suspended Wayne Rooney. Ukraine have a tendency to concede high number of goals and its very unlikely their attack will strong enough to balance it out.

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