Ukraine coach Oleksandr Petrakov said his players would hang a flag in their dressing room given to them by soldiers on the frontline before their World Cup playoff against Wales on Sunday (streaming LIVE, ESPN+, noon ET).
Ukraine beat Scotland in their playoff semi-final at Hampden Park on Wednesday in their first game since the Russian invasion of their country, a victory which Petrakov dedicated to his compatriots defending the Ukrainian borders.
“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.”
A win against Wales on Sunday in Cardiff will earn Ukraine a place in the World Cup finals for just the second time as an independent nation, while Wales have the chance to make their first appearance in 64 years.
“I think that tomorrow everyone will have a chance to watch a great game.”
Petrakov said they are expecting no favours from their opponents.
“Sport is sport, and we don’t expect any presents from Wales or an unfair win,” he said.
“We know how hard it will be against them. This is the most important match in our lives. We really wish to win, and we will do everything possible to get a victory.”