Euro 2016 team-by-team guide: Everything you need to know Ukraine
Kevin Palmer gives us the lowdown on the Ukraine.
Group C fixtures
- June 12th: Germany in Lille
- June 16th: Northern Ireland in Lyon
- June 21st: Poland in Marseille
- COACH: Mykhaylo Fomenko
This former USSR national team defender was a member of the side that finished as runners-up in the 1972 European Championships, losing to Germany in the final, yet his story was only beginning when he hung up his playing boots.
At the age of 67, Fomenko is a hugely well-travelled coach must be noted as having one of the more varied coaching careers in world football, with his talents being exported to Iraq and Guinea over the course of a 37-year coaching career. A highlight was his 1993 Ukrainian title win as Dynamo Kiev boss, but his route to the top job in his nation’s soccer set-up has hardly been conventional.
STAR MAN: Yevhen Konoplyanka (Sevilla)
This lively winger looked set to sign for Liverpool as negotiations with the Anfield club appeared to be edging towards a conclusion last summer, yet he eventually sealed a move to Spanish club Sevilla instead.
One of the shining lights of Ukrainian football, this former Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk attacking star is at home on the left side of his national team, with his brand of invention and goal scoring crucial in their qualifying campaign, as he scored a couple of vital goals and also a spark in their team. Critics would argue he needs to add consistency to his game, but he gets the chance to silence those doubters at Euro 2016.
LOOK OUT FOR: Andriy Yarmolenko (Dynamo Kiev)
Ukraine’s top scorer in the Euro 2016 qualifiers with four goals, he also scored in both legs of their play-off against Slovenia to confirm his importance to his team heading into this summer’s tournament.
A potent weapon down the right flank, Yarmolenko’s scoring threat makes him one of the men Ukraine will look to as the aim to surprise their opponents in France, with this Dynamo Kiev man a vital ingredient in a side that has been accused of placing defensive negativity ahead of attacking panache.
WILD CARD: Artem Kravets (Dynamo Kiev)
Ukraine have limited options in their forward line, so the impact that could be made by Kiev star Kravets as either a starter or an impact substitute will be crucial.
With three goals in the qualifying campaign, this dynamic forward spent some of this season on loan with Bundesliga side as he looked to get regular top level football in the build-up to the Euro 2016 finals. Ukraine will be hoping he has what takes to seize the moment in this tournament.
VERDICT: Ukraine head into Euro 2016 with limited expectations, with the lack of quality players at their disposal meaning any kind of progress in the later stages of the competition would be exceeding the diluted aims of some in Kiev and beyond.
With their coach promoting a less than attractive style of football, much will depend on whether Konoplyanka and Yarmolenko can prove their worth as top levels performers on the biggest international stage of them all. Goals will be a problem, but the chasm in class between Ukraine and their qualifying rivals Spain and Slovakia suggested Fomenko side will not get too far at Euro 2016.