Monday , July 4 2022

Ukraine coach Petrakov dedicates victory to troops ‘who fight in trenches’ | World Cup 2022

Ukraine’s head coach, Oleksandr Petrakov, dedicated his team’s World Cup playoff win over Scotland to troops who are defending their country against attacks from Russia.

Ukraine’s 3-1 success at Hampden Park means victory over Wales on Sunday will earn them a World Cup place. Afterwards, an emotional Petrakov pointed to a wider picture.

“This victory was not for me, was not for the team, it was for our country,” he said. “This is a huge win for Ukraine. It was a team effort. It was a team victory. They did everything for the people they play for.

“They play for Ukrainians, for people watching back home, for members of our armed forces in trenches or in hospitals. They will say thank you to us and we return this gratitude.

“We played for those who fight in trenches, who fight with their last drop of blood. We also play for people at home who are suffering every day.

“This was a baby step towards our great aim. We will do everything in Wales that people expect us to do. We want to make Ukrainians proud. You have to bear in mind what they are going through; people being killed, women being gang raped.”

Petrakov said he was too “mentally and physically exhausted” to properly analyse a game Ukraine dominated for long spells. He spoke of being wished well by the Scottish public when walking in Glasgow with his squad. “We want to extend our gratitude to the people of Scotland,” the coach said. “To this great, hospitable place. Thank you Scotland. We will never forget this.”

Steve Clarke, the Scotland manager, disputed any sense that Ukraine’s greater cause was key to the result. “I think they are a good team anyway,” said Clarke. “The best team won the game. Sometimes the opposition play better than you and that was the case tonight.

“We will have 24 hours feeling sorry for ourselves, we will analyse the game then try and get back on the horse. What we shouldn’t forget is the progress of the last three years.

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“It wasn’t our night, it was Ukraine’s night so congratulations to them. We have improved a lot. I am sad for the players because we wanted to go to the World Cup together. We can’t do that. But we can’t feel too sorry for ourselves.” Clarke said he remains “convinced” his team will qualify for another major tournament. Scotland’s appearance at Euro 2020 was their first in a finals since 1998.

The Scotland captain, Andy Robertson, was blunt about the nature of his team’s display. “We let ourselves down tonight,” said the Liverpool full-back.

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