Mykhaylo Fomenko becomes the next Ukraina manager to try and guide through the tough task of a play off to a major competition. Many have tried before him and failed so will Fomenko be able to break the hoodoo?
Ukraina and Slovenia have met in the play offs before back in 1999; A two legged affair in which Slovenia came out on top. Our very own Petro Chymera has taken a look at this game and others here.
The sides meet for the first time tomorrow since that last play off encounter back in 1999 with Ukraine taking the home leg first with the game being played in Lviv. This should be of big benefit to Ukraina with the fans from Lviv being some of the best in the country. No partial stadium closures should see a full house and the atmosphere should be rocking.
Oleksandr Kucher and Taras Stepanenko are both suspended and Ruslan Rotan out with an injury, Fomenko has a tough decision in which team to start with as he himself admitted in a recent interview, “Theres not much to be cheerful about”.
“Ukraine have lost all their previous finals play-offs, but that is history now. We are living for today and focusing on the future. Of course it would be better to start away but we cannot change anything about the draw.
“We have experience of beating France in a home first leg [in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup] and we will use that in our preparations.”
Former Ukraine player, Yuri Maxymov has stated that he thinks the loss of Stepanenko is much bigger than the loss of Rotan.
Oleksandr Gladkiy has today been ruled out of the first leg after picking up a knock in the Champions League for Shakhtar. He has stayed in Kyiv to try and rehabilitate in the hopes of joining up with the squad for the second leg.
Artem Fedetskiy is on a yellow card and will need to be careful not to get booked as he will miss the second leg, with the only real right back to deputise being Gusev. Gusev isn’t a natural right back but had played there before and done a decent enough job.
Andriy Pyatov is the only other minor injury doubt, as he hopes to shrug off an ankle injury to make the starting line up. Denys Boyko will likely stand in for the injured Pyatov is he has not recovered in time.
Slovenia coach Srečko Katanec has recalled defender Mišo Brečko for the match. Siniša Andjelković are Benjamin Verbič also in the squad, but Tim Matavž, Nejc Skubic and Dejan Trajkovski have all been dropped.
We spoke to Slovenian sports commentator and journalist, Grega Krmavnar to get his thoughts on tomorrows game:
“The match in Lviv will be very much equalized and none of teams will take a big risk, because they know that the tie will be decided in Maribor. I expect that the home team will have more possession, but there won’t be a lot of chances, maybe one or two for both teams, so the efficiency will be the key. I would love to say that the match will end 1:1, but I think that Ukraine will win at home 2:1. However, Slovenia will win in Maribor 1:0 and qualify for France. I think we will see the same course of the tie, like five years ago, when we beat Russia for World Cup 2010.”
“The only injured player is Robert Berič (St. Etienne), so we could say we are in full strength!”
So with that team news, how do we think Ukraina will line up? Likely starting XI:
Fedetskiy, Rakitskiy, Khacheridi, Shevchuk,
In whats sure to be a tight game, Ukraine need to win the first leg, and by a good couple of goals. The fans should give the team a boost and help guide the players to victory.
You can also get Grega on Twitter at @GregaKrmavnar for all the latest Slovenian football news.