May 19, 2016

    Ukraine hope to make up for lost time


    THE country who produced Andriy Shevchenko, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and Sergiy Rebrov are in need of a football hero.

    After breaking away from the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine did not reach the finals of a major event until 2006 but they did advance to the World Cup quarter-finals then.

    As co-hosts of the European Championship in 2012, they crashed out in the first round after defeats to France and England.

    They reached Euro 2016 through a play-off win over Slovenia - the first time in five play-offs for the World Cup or a Euro that Ukraine held their nerve to qualify.

    Ukraine are led by Tymoshchuk who will be looking to get closer to 150 caps at Euro 2016. He is currently on 142.

    Now 37 but battling valiantly on, he started playing for the national team in 2000.

    European clubs will be watching Andriy Yarmalenko at Euro 2016.

    British media say English Premier League clubs, including Liverpool and Everton, are interested in the winger who scored the only goal in Ukraine's 1-0 friendly win over Wales in March.

    Success at Euro 2016 could help Mykhalylo Fomenko become Ukraine's longest serving coach since the country's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

    Traditionally, it is not a stable job, with Fomenko the 17th coach or caretaker in that time.

    He has been in the job since 2012 and is the eighth person to hold the post in the past decade. But at 67, he may not want the responsibility for much longer.