Mark Temnycky –
Ukraine vs Bahrain – Sunday, 23 May 2021 – 19:00 BST/20:00 CEST, Metalist Stadium, Kharkiv, Ukraine
International football has returned. Ukraine will host Bahrain in a friendly on Sunday, 23 May. The match will be played in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
First, Ukraine. After going undefeated in the 2019 calendar year, and winning their EURO 2020 qualification group, Ukraine were on course for a good year in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic, however, prevented this from happening. The European Championships were postponed to 2021, and the majority of Ukraine’s friendlies were canceled.
By the time international football returned in the autumn of 2020, Ukraine were a different team. The Zbirna competed against Spain, Germany, and Switzerland in the UEFA Nations League’s prestigious League A, but a series of injuries and positive coronavirus cases prevented the Ukrainians from playing at their full potential. Ukraine’s squad was diminished, and the Zbirna were unable to properly compete against their opponents. While the Ukrainians did defeat Switzerland and Spain at home, they lost away to Spain and lost both encounters to Germany. To add to Ukraine’s misfortunes, the final match away in Switzerland was called off due to coronavirus concerns, and Ukraine were handed a 3-0 loss on a technicality.
With these hardships behind them, Ukraine will look to the 2020 European Championships as a new opportunity. They will begin their training ahead of the EUROs with a series of international friendlies, where they will face Bahrain in the first of three matches. Ukrainian manager Andriy Shevchenko will use this friendly as an opportunity to make final changes to his squad ahead of this summer’s tournament.
Meanwhile, Bahrain had a much better 2020 calendar year. The Middle Eastern team defeated the likes of Tajikistan, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates in a series of friendless. Bahrain kept one clean sheet in three of these matches, and only conceded two goals in three games. They would go undefeated in the 2020 calendar year.
Their start to 2021 also seemed promising. The Bahraini defeated Syria in an international friendly by three goals to one, but then Bahrain were narrowly defeated by Jordan in a 2-1 loss. Nonetheless, these opponents have helped Bahrain prepare for the Asian Football Confederation’s second round of qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup this summer.
Bahrain will now prepare for these qualifiers by playing against Ukraine and Malaysia in two international friendless. By competing against these two difficult opponents, Bahrain will hope that this will make them adequately prepared for their crucial qualification matches in June.
Ukraine vs Bahrain – Players to Watch:
Georgiy Bushchan #1 – Ukraine (Dynamo Kyiv)
Having played throughout the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League and the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Shevchenko will likely stick with Ukrainian goalkeeper Georgiy Bushchan. The upcoming friendlies will give Bushchan an opportunity to prepare for the 2020 European Championships. He will want to use this match to demonstrate why he should be Ukraine’s starting goalkeeper during the competition.
Mohamed Al Romaihi #13 – Bahrain (Manama Club)
Mohamed Al Romaihi has played an important role for Bahrain. The forward has scored 10 goals in 25 appearances for his national team, and he helped Bahrain win their first West Asian Football Federation Championship in 2019. With Bahrain’s upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification matches, Al Romaihi will look to use the international friendly against Ukraine as an opportunity to warm up ahead of the crucial matches against Cambodia, Iran, and Hong Kong.
Ukraine vs Bahrain – Match Statistics:
- This will be the first international match between Ukraine and Bahrain.
- Ukraine will compete this summer at the 2020 European Championships. They were placed in Group C, where they will face the Netherlands, Austria, and North Macedonia.
- Bahrain will participate in the AFC’s second round of qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. They will face Cambodia, Iran, and Hong Kong.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Ukraine vs Bahrain – 3-1
Ukraine vs Bahrain – Possible Lineups:
Bushchan – Konoplya, Zabarnyi, Matviyenko, Sobol – Stepanenko, Malinovskyi – Zubkov, Marlos, Tsygankov – Yaremchuk
Manager: Andriy Shevchenko
Mohamed Jaafar – Redha Isa, Bughammar, Al Hayam, Abdulla – Hardan – Jameel, Al Malood, Al Shaikh, Al Humaidan – Al Romaihi
Manager: Hélio Sousa
Mark Temnycky is an AIPS accredited journalist who covers the Ukrainian men’s national team and Ukrainian clubs competing in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League for the Futbolgrad Network. Follow him @MTemnycky