Ukraine's Zinchenko: The qualifiers vs Scotland is more than a game
Ukraine's World Cup play-off semi-final versus Scotland is more than a football game, according to Oleksandr Zinchenko, who pledged to do his nation proud.
After Russia attackedUkraine
on February 24, the match on Wednesday at Hampden Park in Glasgow takes place amid a backdrop of conflict.
The match was initially scheduled for March, but FIFA postponed it until June to allow Ukraine to qualify for the Qatar finals later this year.
Zinchenko, who cried during a press conference on Tuesday as he described how important the match was to him, later toldSky Sports
that he and his teammates are committed to boosting the morale of suffering people.
Questioned whether this is more about sending a message, he replied: "Yes, 100 percent. That's for sure. Everyone is in the same situation and everyone is going to give everything.
"My mission is to try to help Ukraine as much as I can, to make Ukrainian people proud and that our nation is living with freedom and that we will never give up.
"We need to focus on our game, we need to try and give some good emotions to the Ukrainian people so that's what we're going to try to do."
Zinchenko, who delivered goal a in the European Championship final against Sweden at Hampden less than a year ago, confesses he is unsure how he would feel when Ukraine's national chant is performed before kick-off.
"I have been thinking about this moment for a long time," he added.
"I don't know what is going to be inside my heart because I think it's impossible to describe the feeling. I try to imagine but I think it's going to be so emotional.
"When this tough period started on February 24, nobody was thinking about football and I couldn't even think that this game was going to happen.
"I think it's impossible to describe until you are in this position, so for us as football players, we have unbelievable lives, we have families, facilities around us, but for the people who are struggling, suffering, starving, it's impossible to describe."
The 25-year-old left-back, whose team must also overcome Wales in Cardiff on Sunday to qualify for the World Cup, claimed that he keeps in touch with family and friends in his homeland but is worried about their wellbeing.
"I keep in touch with everyone, with all my family every single day and with my friends," Zinchenko said. "They look like they're in the safe positions, the safe cities, but you never know what can happen because the Russian aggression is still there.
"They're attacking other cities and civilian buildings with their bombs, so you never know what can happen."
stated at a press conference on Tuesday that keeping his players concentrated on football while dealing with a variety of emotions was a huge issue.
"Clearly it's a very difficult task to prepare your team for the game when every single player is thinking about mothers, fathers, close relatives, family back home in Ukraine," Petrakov said.
"We use all sorts of methods, even jokes. We motivate people in a light manner. But clearly every player understands how huge the task is.
"That will make their task even more difficult, working under a lot of stress. But we are trying to do our best and achieve results. The team is fully prepared."
Petrakov, on the other hand, confessed that he won't know how keen his Ukraine-based players are until the game begins: "What the players will be like, we will see on the football pitch."
The bulk of his roster comes from theUkrainian league
, which went on hiatus in December for the winter break and did not return following Russia's invasion on February 24.
Ukraine met club teams Borussia Monchengladbach, Empoli, and Rijeka at a training camp for its local players in Slovenia, and Dynamo Kyiv have played a handful of friendlies.
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