An emotional Oleksandr Zinchenko expressed his dream of reaching the World Cup and giving the Ukrainian people some richly-deserved feelings of pride and happiness.
The Manchester City player broke down in tears at a media conference at Hampden as he outlined what Ukraine’s delayed World Cup play-off semi-final against Scotland meant to him.
Zinchenko firstly thanked his hosts for postponing the game in March, weeks after Russia’s invasion of his country, to give Ukraine the chance to qualify for the Qatar finals.
But he added that he and his team-mates had arrived in Glasgow in a “fighting mood” as they are determined to deliver an achievement to lift the spirits of a beleaguered nation.
Zinchenko, who scored against Sweden at Hampden in the European Championship finals less than 12 months ago, said:
Every Ukrainian wants one thing – to stop this war.
I have spoken with people from all around the world, from different countries, and also some Ukrainian kids, who just don’t understand what is happening back in Ukraine. They only want the war to stop. They have one dream – to stop the war.
When it comes to football, the Ukrainian team have their own dream: we want to go to the World Cup.
We want to give incredible emotions to the Ukrainian people because Ukrainians deserve it so much at this very moment.
Zinchenko, whose team will also need to beat Wales in Cardiff on Sunday to qualify, added:
I’m pretty sure that all Ukraine who has this opportunity is going to watch us, and we are going to feel this support 100 per cent.
We can speak a lot but we need to do it on the pitch. We are going to try to make them happy and proud.
Scotland will take on Ukraine in the semi-finals of the 2022 World Cup playoffs on Wednesday evening, with the winner set to face Wales in the final on Sunday. The winner there will qualify for Qatar 2022.