Ukraine’s greatest footballing legend reckons they will beat Scotland AND Wales as he puts off critics of the preparation

UKRAINE’s biggest footballing legend Oleg Blokhin has urged his players to ignore the criticism that has dogged their preparations for the game against Scotland and head for the World Cup.

Steve Clarke’s side finally meet the war-torn nation in Hampden on Wednesday, but Ukraine have not played a competitive game in eight months.

Oleg Blokhin isn't worried about preparing for the playoffs against Scotland

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Oleg Blokhin isn’t worried about preparing for the playoffs against Scotland

They have spent the last month at a training camp in Slovenia and played three friendlies against Borussia Mönchengladbach, Rijeka and Empoli.

But they have been heavily criticized by a number of Ukrainian football personalities and ex-coaches for not being able to arrange a final friendly this week despite offers to play against six different clubs and countries.

Manager Oleksandr Petrakov instead played a friendly between the two sides in his squad, claiming the decision was his.

Blokhin remains the only Ukrainian player to have won the Ballon d’Or and managed his country twice.

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He is the all-time top scorer record for Dynamo Kyiv and the Soviet Union, as well as the top scorer in Soviet leagues history.

And the 69-year-old, who coached Ukraine in their only World Cup appearance in 2006 and also took charge at Euro 2012, believes they can overcome all odds and beat Scotland… and then Wales in the final.

He said: “I am very confident that these guys will beat Scotland and not only that, I think they will beat Wales and come to Qatar.

“I keep hearing that we only played challenge games, but listen, footballers don’t play friendlies. You don’t know how to do it.

“UEFA has done a great job arranging that they travel to Slovenia and use their facilities. A month of that will have allowed us to fully prepare for the games.”

“Everything can be fixed with training and they will have had many sessions.

“Yeah, we’re going to need some luck because it won’t be easy in Glasgow. But I think it will come down to who is more ready to fight and our motivation couldn’t be higher.

“I told some of our players at the draw that I had to go to Qatar because it’s a country I’ve never been to. And I’m sure they will.”

Meanwhile, Atalanta star Ruslan Malinovsky stressed that the inter-squad match, in which one of the sides uses the same tactics as Scotland, will be an ideal preparation for Wednesday’s semi-finals in Glasgow.

The friendly ended in a 1-1 draw and Petrakov expressed satisfaction with the performance.

And Malinowski said: “The game had a really good, high pace and it was great preparation for the Scotland game.

“We were asked to treat this game as official, so all the guys gave 100%. The main thing was to last 90 minutes physically, prepare some tactical moments in defense and attack and practice.”


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