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‘What the Russians are doing, our so-called brothers, I can't understand’ – Ukraine manager says it’s impossible to plan for football

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Buildings damaged by recent shelling during Russia's invasion of Ukraine in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Photo: Reuters/Oleksandr Lapshyn

Buildings damaged by recent shelling during Russia's invasion of Ukraine in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Photo: Reuters/Oleksandr Lapshyn

Buildings damaged by recent shelling during Russia's invasion of Ukraine in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Photo: Reuters/Oleksandr Lapshyn

The manager of the Ukraine national team admits he has no idea when his side will be in a position to play their proposed matches in the World Cup playoff or their Nations League fixtures, including clashes with the Republic of Ireland.

Ukraine were due to play away to Scotland in the semi-final of the World Cup playoff last night but due to the situation in Ukraine, that game was obviously postponed and the Scots instead played Poland in a friendly where funds were raised for Ukrainian charities.

Wales play the winners of the Ukraine-Scotland tie in a playoff final but while the March date had been provisionally refixed for June, Scotland manager Steve Clark said this week he doubted that Ukraine would be able to play in June and hinted that September is more likely, if the game takes place at all.

Ireland have an interest as they have Nations League games at home and away to Ukraine in June, though UEFA would give precedence to the World Cup tie.

Speaking today to a TV station in Kyiv, Ukraine's manager Oleksandr Petrakov said he was encouraged by the level of resistance of his people to the Russian invasion but admitted it was impossible to plan for football.

"I am constantly in touch with the players of the national team, including our foreign-based players. For them, football has receded into the background," he said.

"It's now the end of March, we still have April and May. Let's see when our match with Scotland will be scheduled. After all, the League of Nations should still be there, there is a calendar. I don't know what will happen. It's not to do with football, people are dying."

He had been in Turkey before war broke out but is now in the Ukrainian capital. "I'm in Kyiv, I haven't gone anywhere. I'm a native of Kyiv, I don't want to run away from my hometown," he added.

"The question of whether we will become stronger is not a case of 100%, but 200%. Wherever I went, I saw that people have become united. I still can't believe that the war started.

"Destroying houses, killing children, I don't even know how to talk about it. My mother lived under the German occupation, she told me a lot, but what the Russians are doing now, our so-called brothers, I still can't understand how it happened."

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