As the players take to the pitch at the Cardiff City Stadium at 5 PM on Sunday, Wales knows that it will have the entire country behind it. Ukraine knows that it will have the rest of the world behind its team. Ukraine’s journey to being one game from the World Cup is remarkable itself, so will anyone be able to stand in their way of a place in Qatar in November?
Ukraine were unable to play their play-off games in the allocated March time slot, the team had to sit back and watch as the rest of Europe found out their fate for the biggest tournament in the world.
Some of the Ukraine national team players were able to continue playing for their domestic team. Captain of Ukraine, Oleksandr Zinchenko, became a champion of England once again, as Manchester City won their fourth league title in five years. His performance in the second half as City came from 2-0 down to beat Villa 3-2 perfectly defined the attitude of the nation.
Half of the team continued to play across Europe, including star striker Andriy Yarmolenko, Roman Yaremchuk and Vitaliy Mykolenko. Some others haven’t been as lucky.
The players who ply their trade for the big two in Ukraine, Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kyiv, had been stuck in Slovenia for the past month trying to get some all-important training for Ukraine, a team who had only qualified for the World Cup once in 2006.
Friendlies had been played against the likes of Borussia Monchengladbach but no national team had been able to provide stiff competition for a team where rustiness was high.