Ukraine’s Oleksandr Zinchenko believes his nation ‘gave everything’ to reach the World Cup despite defeat in the play-off final to Wales.
With a monumental amount riding on it, an emotionally charged match was played against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine and the ongoing war there. Many neutrals had been willing them to win as a result.
However, having produced a stirring performance to defeat Scotland in the play-off semi-final, Zinchenko and his teammates were unable to overcome Wales as Andriy Yarmolenko’s first-half own goal proved to be the match-winner, although there were a number of clear-cut chances at both ends.
The result means the Welsh have ended a 64-year wait for a World Cup appearance by qualifying for this year’s winter showpiece in Qatar.
Speaking after the match, a dejected Zinchenko – who had a quickly-taken free-kick goal disallowed -was adamant his side had done everything in their powers to win the game.
“Every one of us gave everything today, we left everything on the pitch,” the Man City utility man said. “In general I don’t think we deserved to lose, but that’s football, it happens.
“Football is about emotions, we can bring some great emotions to our fans, but unfortunately today we didn’t get the result we wanted.”
Zinchenko also urged his compatriots and the world to continue to stand up to Russia’s aggression.
“Everyone needs to continue to fight, as footballers we need to represent our country as best we can,” he continued.
“Everyone needs to live in peace and we need to stop the war altogether. Today it’s Ukraine, but who knows tomorrow? We need to stay together.”
His international manager Oleksandr Petrakov added: “I think we did everything we could, but I really want the people in Ukraine to remember our team, our efforts.
“I want to say sorry we didn’t score but this is sport. I want to express my gratitude to Wales. I wish your team all the best in the World Cup and the whole of Ukraine is very grateful to Wales.”