Following Ukraine’s embarrassing performance in this year’s Euro 2016 competition held in France, and the appointment of Andriy Shevchenko as the new manager of the Ukrainian national football team, it appears that a new horizon is in place for the Ukrainian football nation.
Having recently celebrated its twenty fifth year of independence, and having previously qualified only once in five attempts for the FIFA World Cup, the Zbirna is now looking for their second World Cup qualification.
On August 25, one day after Ukrainian Independence Day, Shevchenko announced his first squad list as manager, in preparation for Ukraine’s FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying match against Iceland, which will be held on Monday, September 5. Notable exclusions were: Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, who retired from the national team following Ukraine’s Euro 2016 campaign; left back, Vyacheslav Shevchuk, who acted as captain for part of Ukraine’s Euro matches; and veteran Ruslan Rotan.
Perhaps most surprising, however, was the inclusion of several new youth players, in addition to the recall of Roman Bezus, who had fallen out of favor with former manager, Mykhailo Fomenko, following Ukraine’s 3-2 defeat to France on aggregate during the second round of FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifications.
There are several positive signs that can be noted from Shevchenko’s selection. For example, both Roman Zozulya and Artem Fedetskiy left their native Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, and will be playing in La Liga and the Bundesliga, respectively, this season. Furthermore, it is still speculated that Dynamo Kyiv’s Andriy Yarmolenko may leave by the end of the transfer window, and with Yevhen Konoplyanka, Roman Bezus, Vladlen Yurchenko, Oleksandr Zinchenko, and Yevhen Shakhov currently playing in leagues outside of Ukraine, this provides greater squad depth to the Ukrainian national team.
For several years, fans of the Ukrainian national team have criticized the fact that Ukrainian players are reluctant to leave their native homeland and branch out to better, more competitive leagues in Europe. Given recent developments, it can be argued that Ukraine’s squad depth has strengthened considerably, and will develop even further under the guidance of Shevchenko and because several of these players compete outside the crisis ridden Ukrainian Premier Liha.
In addition, the inclusion of several youth players means that they have the opportunity to develop over time, Thus Ukraine’s future looks promising. Another criticism by Ukrainian fans was that too many of the senior players were already past their prime, the correction of this situation gives Ukraine another opportunity to further strengthen its style of play. Overall, it is expected that Shevchenko will bring exciting football to the Ukrainian national team, and there is hope for a more promising future for the Ukrainian national team.
Here is the Ukraine squad that will face Iceland on September 5 at the Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex:
Goalkeepers: Denys Boyko (Beşiktaş); Andriy Pyatov (Shakhtar Donetsk); Mykyta Shevchenko (Zorya Luhansk)
Defenders: Artem Fedetskiy (SV Darmstadt 98); Oleksandr Kucher, Yaroslav Rakitskiy, Bohdan Butko, Ivan Ordets, Serhiy Kryvtsov (all Shakhtar); Yevhen Khacheridi (Dynamo Kyiv); Pavlo Ksyonz (Karpaty Lviv); Eduard Sobol (Zorya Luhansk)
Midfielders: Andriy Yarmolenko, Serhiy Sydorchuk, Serhiy Rybalka, Vitaliy Buyalskiy, Denis Harmash (all Dynamo Kyiv); Taras Stepanenko, Maksym Malyshev, Viktor Kovalenko (Shakhtar Donetsk); Oleksandr Karavayev, Ivan Petryak (Zorya Luhansk); Yevhen Konoplyanka (Sevilla); Roman Bezus (Sint-Truidense V.V.); Vladlen Yurchenko (Bayer 04 Leverkusen); Oleksandr Zinchenko (Manchester City); Yevhen Shakhov (PAOK)
Forwards: Roman Zozulya (Real Betis); Yevhen Seleznyov (Shakhtar Donetsk); Artem Dovbyk, Denys Balanyuk (Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk)