Ukraine eyeing Euro 2016 spot

16 November 2015 12:46

Ukraine head into Tuesday's Euro 2016 play-off second-leg against Slovenia in Maribor with some trepidation despite holding a 2-0 advantage from the opening leg.

Goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Seleznyov in Saturday's match in Lviv put the Ukrainians in control of the tie.

But Ukraine, who made their Euro finals debut in 2012 as co-hosts of the tournament, have lost in five previous qualifying play-offs for major tournaments, their last against France two years ago.

Ukraine won the home leg 2-0 but fell to a 3-0 defeat in Paris four days later to miss out on a place in the 2014 World Cup.

"For us it would have been better to start the tie away from home but we cannot change anything as that was the draw," Ukraine coach Mikhail Fomenko said on his federation's official website.

"We have taken the first step and now we need to be calm. Our players know what they have to do in the second leg."

Ukraine, who finished third in Group C, behind defending European champions Spain and Slovakia, respectively, were solid while playing on the road in qualifying.

They lost in Spain but picked up 10 points of a possible 12 from their other four away qualifiers.

Slovenia are attempting to reach their second Euro finals since 2000.

Srecko Katanec's side, who finished third behind Group E winners England and Switzerland, have won five and lost just one of their last seven competitive home games.

Slovenia beat Ukraine in a play-off tie 16 years ago when they held them to a 1-1 draw in Kyiv to earn a place at Euro 2000 with a 3-2 aggregate victory.

"We have another game to play and although we know it will be difficult to score two goals and not concede, in football everything is possible," Slovenia midfielder Kevin Kampl said on his federation's website.

"Ukraine have a very good side and we must give 100 per cent to have a chance.

"We have to believe in ourselves."

Kampl has called on fans to play their part against Ukraine.

"We hope that we will be carried by the atmosphere in the stands and that we play a good match," said the Bayer Leverkusen player.

"We expect a different game with respect to the one in Ukraine."

Ukraine striker Olexandr Gladkiy missed Saturday's opening leg with an ankle injury and is fighting against the clock to recover for Tuesday's match.

The visitors are without injured midfielder Ruslan Rotan but will be bolstered by the return of defensive midfielder Taras Stepanenko and full back Olexandr Kucher, who missed the game in Lviv through suspension.

Source: PA


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