The road to Colombia
Ukraine were hugely impressive in securing their place at Colombia 2016. After sweeping to a 7-0 victory over England in their opening group match in the main round of European qualifying, the Ukrainians consigned Belgium and Hungary to respective 6-2 and 5-3 defeats to top the section and cruise into the play-offs. Waiting from them there were Slovakia, who were unable to halt the Ukrainian juggernaut. After racking up six goals without reply in the first leg, Ukraine completed the job with an emphatic 5-1 win in the return.
Strengths and styles
Ukraine’s upcoming opponents have been warned. The men in yellow and blue like to get on the attack and are resolute in defence, two qualities they showcased in their six qualifying matches by scoring 29 and letting in a mere six. With most of the squad made up of players from Energy Lviv and MFK Lokomotiv Kharkiv, the Ukrainians are a well-drilled outfit. European runners-up in 2001 and 2003, they had hoped to go all the way at UEFA Futsal EURO Serbia 2016. Their bid for glory was stymied by the hosts, however, who edged them 2-1 in the quarter-finals.
FIFA Futsal World Cup record
Ukraine qualified for the previous three FIFA Futsal World Cup competitions, having made their tournament debut at Spain 1996, where they finished fourth. Their next-best performance was a run to the last eight at Thailand 2012. After topping their group and easing past Japan in the Round of 16, the Ukrainians came unstuck against Colombia in the quarter-finals. They also acquitted themselves well at Brazil 2008 and Chinese Taipei 2004, advancing from the group stage on both occasions before going out in the last 16. All the wiser for those experiences, the eastern Europeans are thinking big as they head to Colombia.