Ukraine’s National Soccer Team Aims for the World Cup | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Ukraine’s National Soccer Team Aims for the World Cup

Nonfiction writer Takehide Mizutani's report on the "war in Ukraine

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The “Yuriy Gagarin Stadium” in the city of Chernihiu. The pitch has been punctured by Russian missiles.
Bleachers shattered

Many of the bleachers spread out before us have been shattered into pieces, and plastic debris has been scattered all the way to the ground. Some of the bleachers remain bent and rippled from the blast. The remains of a missile hit by the Russians had left a large hole in the pitch. The diameter of the hole must have been about 20 meters. The terrain, which even looked like a crater, told the story of the tremendous destructive power.

This is a soccer stadium in Chernihiv, about a three-hour drive north of the Ukrainian capital of Khiu. It is called “Yuriy Gagarin Stadium” after the astronaut who made the first successful manned space flight.

During a media tour organized by the Ukrainian government on April 11, a city official told the press

In early March, the stadium was destroyed by more than five Russian bombs. The historical building used as a children’s library was also badly damaged. None of the buildings are military; they are civilian facilities,” he said.

He condemned the Russian military’s targeting of civilian facilities.

The stadium is based in Desna Chernihiu, a club in the Ukrainian soccer premier league (16 teams in all). On April 14, Minister of Information and Culture Aleksandr Trochenko announced on Twitter that the German Bundesliga club is willing to help with the stadium’s reconstruction.

Soccer is a popular sport in Ukraine. Ukraine’s FIFA ranking has risen over the years, and it is currently 27th, close to Japan’s 23rd. Ukraine has played three friendly matches against Japan in the past, winning two and losing one.

Despite the war-torn situation, there is still a glimmer of hope in Ukraine’s soccer world.

The Ukrainian professional season begins in August each year and ends in May, with the first season running from August to mid-December and the second from late February to May. The first season runs from August to mid-December and the second from late February to May, with the first match of the second Premier League season scheduled for February 25 this year. Voladimir Zverov, 35, a soccer commentator for 1+1 Media, a major Ukrainian media outlet, explained, “Professional players in Ukraine are not only the best players in the world, but they are also the best players in the world.

It is customary for Ukrainian professional players to have a training camp in Turkey between the first and second periods. However, the day before the first match of the second season began, the Russian army invaded the country, forcing some players to remain in Turkey, and some even moved to neighboring Romania.

This year’s Premier League season will end without a resumption, and both Shakhtar Donetsk and Denamo Khiu, the teams that finished first and second, are currently in Europe playing charity matches to raise money for Ukraine. The spirit of volunteerism resides here as well.

In the match between Denamo Khiu and Borussia Dortmund of Germany on April 26, Khiu won 3-2, raising 400,000 euros (about 55 million yen).

There is still a chance for the Ukrainian national team to compete at the World Cup in Qatar this November. The team was scheduled to play Scotland in March in a European qualifying playoff, but the match was postponed to June 1. Voladimir predicts, “The Ukrainian national team will be the obvious choice.

The Ukrainian national team, of course, is not in good shape due to the war. The Ukrainian national team is not in good shape due to the war, of course, and they will have a tough time. So we have a 35% chance to beat Scotland, which has a better preparation environment. If the chances of winning the war are increasing, we might be able to gain momentum and pull off a miracle.”

The winner will face the higher-ranked Wales on June 5 for a place in the World Cup.

This is the stadium of the popular Denamo Kieu team, based in the capital city of Kieu. The stadium of Denamo Keau, a popular team based in the capital, Keau, was quiet since the league matches had been canceled.
The ticket office was also deserted.
  • Interview, text, and photographs Nonfiction writer Takehide Mizutani

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