Ukraine star Andrei Shevchenko has warned his team-mates to be prepared for a tough battle against Greece in Wednesday's 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ play-off second leg in Donetsk.
The two countries are all square after Saturday's first leg in Athens ended goalless. "We and Greece have a 50-50 chance to reach next year's finals," Shevchenko said. "In Athens we played very good in defence and, I believe, we could repeat such a performance in Donetsk.
"At home Greece were playing in a physically powerful style...but it was a fair play style opposition without roughing. We expect the Greeks will continue playing that style in Donetsk and are ready for it."
In Athens we played very good in defence and, I believe, we could repeat such a performance in Donetsk,
Ukraine's press celebrated Monday the first leg draw, claiming it a successful start for the overall triumph. "In Athens we achieved a result that seriously raises our hopes for the final success," the Voice of Ukraine daily suggested. "We gained a draw in Athens. In Donetsk we need nothing less than a victory!" voiced another paper, Segodnya.
But coach Alexei Mikhailichenko played down expectations, saying that the battle was far from over. "It's too early to celebrate. Nothing is decided yet," Mikhailichenko said.
"Of course the home turf gives us some virtual advantage. But in modern football there's no substantial difference between home and away grounds. I think that the rivals still have equal chances for the final success. And the clash in Donetsk will be the real final, the deciding match."
In Wednesday's match Ukraine should field a full-strength squad with one exception. Poltava defender Grigory Yarmash has caught a cold and returned to his club side with a fever. Dynamo Kiev midfielder Taras Mykhalik, who has injured his right knee and was substituted in the match at Athens, remains uncertain for the return showdown, Ukraine's team doctor said.