Ukraine, along with neighbours Poland, host Euro 2012, the pinnacle of European football. Thought they have the much-required home support, Ukraine would not fancy themselves to be serious contenders for the crown. In a tournament that features current world and European champion, Spain and many former champions, the Ukranians would consider themselves underdogs. However, they have sprung a surprise once in a while and they are more than capable of doing so again.
Oleh Blokhin is the head coach of Ukraine football team. He was one of the greatest strikers in the world and still is the highest goal-scorer in Soviet league history. He began coaching Ukraine in September 2003. Under his guidance, they made their first ever quarter-final appearance in a FIFA world-cup. However, he resigned after his boys failed to qualify for the Euro 2008. After being reappointed as the head coach in April 2011, Oleh would be eager to make his mark.
Ukraine have played a number of international friendlies in the last year and have obtained mixed results. While they managed to beat Uzbekistan 2-0 in June last year, they were butchered at home by France in the same month. Their form showed no signs of improvement after the defeat, as they lost three consecutive matches to Sweden, Uruguay and Czech Republic respectively. Just when everyone started questioning the coach’s ability to provide results, the team turned a corner and comprehensively defeated Bulgaria and Estonia in October 2011. The boys proved that they were not to be taken lightly when the managed to hold the mighty Germans to a 3-3 draw in November 2011. Four days later, they overcame the Austrians 2-1 and in February 2012 they beat Israel 3-2.
European championships history
Till 1991, Ukraine was a part of the erstwhile USSR. This is the first time that Ukraine is participating in the Euro since it was declared an independent democratic state. By virtue of being the hosts, Ukraine were accorded automatic qualification and did not go through the long and tiring process of competing in the qualifiers.
With a FIFA world rank 50, Ukraine find themselves the lowest ranked team in Group D. With France, England and Sweden among the world’s top 20 teams, Ukraine might find it highly difficult to qualify for the next stage. The first of their group matches is played against Sweden in the capital city Kiev on 11 June 2012. A tough encounter against the French beckons the Ukrainians on 15 June 2012 in at the Donbass arena in Donetsk, the city of million roses. Ukraine play their final group match against England, the highest ranked team in the group.
On May 8, 2012 head coach Oleh Blokhin announced a provisional squad of 26 players for the competition.
Goalkeepers: Andriy Pyatov, Oleksandr Goryainov, Maxym Koval, Oleksandr Bandura
Defenders: Oleksandr Kucher, Yaroslav Rakitskiy, Vyacheslav Shevchuk, Yevhen Khacheridi, Taras Mikhalik, Vitaliy Mandzyuk , Yevhen Selin, Bohdan Butko
Midfielders: Olexandr Aliyev, Denys Garmash, Oleh Gusev, Andriy Yarmolenko, Yevhen Konoplyanka, Ruslan Rotan, Serhiy Nazarenko, Taras Stepanenko, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk
Forwards: Artem Milevskiy, Andriy Shevchenko, Marco Devic, Andriy Voronin, Yevhen Seleznyov
Andriy Yarmolenko, also dubbed “the new Sheva”, is an exciting prospect for his country. The 22-year old Dynamo Kiev star is a very versatile footballer who can play upfront and in the flanks. The captain and country’s highest goalscorer, Andriy Shevchenko is another player to watch out for
About the Author (Author Profile)
Gokul is a software professional from Chennai, India. An avid sports fan, he is a keen follower of Cricket, Football, Hockey, Tennis and Formula One. He styles his articles as razor-edge analyses of all the hot and happening events in the field of sports.