Following a six-year absence, Ukraine are back at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. Striker Andriy Yevdokymov is particularly excited about competing for the trophy in Ravenna, as he explained in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com.
"It's a great honour for us to be here," said Yevdokymov, who, aside from the prospect of performing on the biggest stage at the Stadio del Mare, is also looking forward to some vociferous support from the travelling fans.
"A lot of people have said they're coming. We're expecting about 200 supporters," explained the 26-year-old. "A lot of our relatives will be coming to cheer us on too, so we'll be giving our all for them." If Ukraine's performances at the European qualification tournament in Bibione are anything to go by, the travelling fans can expect their side to mount a serious charge for the trophy.
After finishing top of the European standings, Ukraine are now tipped by many as dark horses for the 2011 world title, though Yevdokymov is refusing to get carried away. "Every one of the 16 teams that have qualified for this World Cup are favourites in my eyes. We're just one of these teams, but of course we're going to do our best. God only knows who will claim the title in the end."
Attractive and attacking
The Ukrainians' first test in Ravenna could hardly be more daunting. Yevdokymov and his colleagues kick off their Group D campaign against record titleholders Brazil, but the skilful pivot is unfazed: "Every game is going to be difficult, whether we're up against Brazil, Japan or Mexico. Of course the Brazilians are hot favourites, but we'll be doing everything we can to take something from the game."
According to Yevdokymov, the travelling fans can look forward to a real spectacle in Ravenna: "We're going to try and play attractive, attacking beach soccer against Brazil. We want to entertain the fans." As for his personal targets, Yevdokymov is keeping it simple: "To win every match, nothing less."