Ukrainians ‘hope for victory’ at Glasgow football ground

Issued on: Changed:

Kyiv (Ukraine) (AFP) – Ukraine hoped for victory on the pitch on Tuesday, a day before their national team play their first official game since the Russian invasion and take on Scotland in a World Cup qualifier.

The game between Ukraine and Scotland will take place in Glasgow on Wednesday. It was postponed from March after Russian President Vladimir Putin dispatched troops to Ukraine on February 24.

After three months of war, fans said a win for their team would bring a much-needed sense of joy.

“I hope for victory,” a 44-year-old army soldier, Andriy Veres, told AFP in Kyiv.

“Nowadays it is very important for the country, for all people, for everyone who is a fan and even for those who are not.”

He likened the Ukraine team’s hope for victory to the country’s praying for success on the front line.

“We believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, we believe in our national football team,” said Veres, who hopes to see the game despite military service.

Football fans in Ukraine have missed watching the sport as all games have been canceled since Moscow attacked.

The Ukrainian team trained for the World Cup playoffs in Slovenia as stadiums and other sports infrastructure were threatened by Russian bombing.

“Any event that involves peaceful living will be very welcome,” Vladyslav Dykhan, a 53-year-old construction worker, told AFP.

“You can’t just focus on the war. We need a way to let off steam.”

It would be “inspirational” and “very uplifting” if Ukraine won, he said.

“Life goes on no matter what”

Dykhan spoke to AFP outside the Olympiysky Stadium in Kyiv.

The 70,000-seat arena was the site of the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid just four years ago, but it now stands empty with few people passing through the closed entrance gates.

The capital of Ukraine was largely spared the fate of some eastern and northern cities, largely destroyed by fighting, and life has slowly returned to normal after Russian troops withdrew from outside the city.

But a daily curfew from 11pm means fans will likely only be able to watch the first half of the game in a pub and will have to watch the rest at home.

But even if they are forced to watch from their couches, the game will bring a sense of normality to Ukrainians.

“Life goes on no matter what, no matter what’s happening around you,” said a 67-year-old scientist, Andriy Ganchuk.

Ukraine have struggled to find warm-up partners in a busy international calendar and have only played two friendlies before the game against Scotland.

Artem Frankov, a football analyst from Kyiv, admitted that this could be a problem for Ukraine but still believed they could win.

He said the game was “significant” for the team as Ukraine have only qualified for the World Cup once since appearing as an independent nation in 2006.

“We all fully understand how important this is for a country at war,” Frankov said.

“Even for those on the front lines fighting invaders and risking their lives.”

Leave a Comment