While far from the most important aspect of the conflict, Ukrainian national football came to a standstill after the Russian invasion of the country in February 2022. But even after the war, the men’s national team was one game away from a chance to help bring respite to a nation under attack.
months after the invasion, ukraine fell short of the last hurdle of reaching the 2022 men’s world cup in qatar as its national team, which had been training in slovenia in the run-up, lost by the margin closer against Wales in a knockout match on June 5 that could have lifted the spirits of a nation at war.
Reading: Ukraine vs russia football 2022
Prior to the Russian invasion, Ukraine had earned a place in the European World Cup playoffs after finishing second in their qualifying group behind defending World Cup champions France. They were drawn against Scotland for the first playoff game, with the game originally scheduled to be played on March 24.
However, after a request from the Ukrainian field, the game was postponed until June 1. ukraine put on a strong performance to beat scotland 3-1 on home turf in glasgow and advanced to face wales on 5 june in a final play-off. A place in qatar’s world cup group b was at stake in that match, but an own goal from captain andriy yarmolenko was enough to ruin their bet.
Russia was supposed to play in a similar way in the world cup playoffs, but the world governing body fifa banned russia from participating in the 2022 world cup. the russians were supposed to face poland in the qualifying playoffs, but fifa instead gave poland a bye to the next round, where they beat sweden and qualified for the 2022 world cup.
more: how wales beat ukraine to advance to qatar 2022
Ukraine qualified for the 2022 world cup?
after beating scotland away in the playoff semi-final on June 1, ukraine needed one more away win in wales to clinch a world cup spot.
overcame the first hurdle by beating scotland 3-1. But they failed to beat Wales on June 5, losing 1-0 and missing out on the chance to join the United States, England and Iran in Group B in Qatar.
Both games against Scotland and Wales were single elimination: a draw after 90 minutes would have required extra time and even penalties to ensure there was a winner.
ukraine had barely qualified for the world cup playoffs, finishing one point above finland in group d of uefa world cup qualifiers. a 2-1 win against the finns in october 2021 was the critical result for ukraine.
after it became clear that ukraine would not be in a position to field a team in march, fifa, uefa and scottish football authorities worked together to ensure ukraine had every chance to compete for their place in the cup of the world. despite the difficult times the country is facing.
The playoffs were originally scheduled for March 24, but were rescheduled for June, giving Ukraine more time to determine if they could field a team.
with the world cup scheduled for november, the window of june 2022 became the most obvious window to fulfill playoff matches, provided ukraine could put together a team.
ukraine match schedule 2022
Following their elimination in the playoffs, Ukraine’s focus will now turn to the UEFA Nations League and the six matches scheduled for the rest of the 2022 calendar.
does ukraine have a team?
ukraine called up 26 players in its bid to qualify for the world cup, and players from ukrainian clubs were given special permission to meet and train in slovenia in the months leading up to the world cup qualifiers in June .
Ukraine has a number of international stars based abroad who were in action for their clubs during the 2021-22 European season. The English Premier League was home to West Ham’s Andriy Yarmolenko, Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko and Everton’s Vitaliy Mykolenko, while Ruslan Malinovskyi and Viktor Kovalenko played in the Italian Serie A in 2021-22.
However, 16 members of Ukraine’s 26-man squad were based on Ukrainian soil, with a large number on the books in Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kyiv. The local league not only suspended its activity after the invasion of Russia, but the players were also forced to face the war.
the wife of andriy pyatov, the veteran goalkeeper with more than 100 caps for his country, recounted how the family had to flee kyiv when hostilities broke out. He was part of the squad that faced Scotland and Wales.
Shakhtar’s Viktor Kornienko, who has two parties with his country, reportedly joined efforts to repel the Russian invasion by joining the Ukrainian armed forces. It was not clear if he was available to be called up and train, but he was not on the June squad.