After months of devastation, Ukrainians have a thing to cheer about as their football team has made it to the final of World Cup Qualifiers. Ukraine beat Scotland in their playoff semi-final at Hampden Park on Wednesday to progress to the next round of Qualifiers. Now, they will take on Wales to decide their fate for the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
As the football players brought joy to the country with a victory over Scotland, Ukrainian soldiers honored them by gifting a flag ahead of their final showdown against Wales on Sunday. Now, Ukraine coach Oleksandr Petrakov has said that his players would hang a flag in their dressing room during their playoff game against Wales.
“It is a really hard situation in Ukraine, and not everybody has a chance to watch football, and not everybody watches football because of all the problems,” Petrakov told a news conference on Saturday. “Despite this, we will try to concentrate tomorrow and have a great game.”
“Personally, I am not in communication with any of the soldiers, but players in the team wrote to our soldiers, and they also received a flag from the war, which we’ve promised to hang up in the dressing room,” added Petrakov.
Big game ahead of Ukraine
While the win against Scotland was cheered heavily as it was Ukraine’s first game since the Russian invasion of their country, the game against Wales holds more significance. This is a big game considering the fact that a win on Sunday in Cardiff will earn Ukraine a place in the World Cup for just the second time as an independent nation. And coach Oleksandr Petrakov also knows the weight this game holds for his team.
“This is the most important match in our lives. We really wish to win, and we will do everything possible to get a victory,” said Petrakov ahead of the big clash. He also has plans sorted and thus expects a top-class game at Cardiff. “I’ve watched the coaching work of (Wales coach) Robert Page, and I’ve noted that the Welsh side cooperates well with very good players, especially Ramsey, Bale and James. I think that tomorrow everyone will have a chance to watch a great game,” he added.