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Don’t count out Ukraine at Euros: Shevchenko

June 5, 2012
KIEV: Ukraine’s veteran star Andriy Shevchenko dismissed concerns about his team’s readiness for the European football championship with just a week remaining before the co-hosts opening match.

The 35-year-old Ukrainian skipper said his team should not be judged too harshly for losing 3-2 to Austria in a recent friendly.

“Our preparations for the Euro are going according to the plan and the results of the friendlies are not really important,” Shevchenko said.

“Neither the 4-0 win over Estonia nor the defeat at Innsbruck count for anything.

“Austria are definitely a more classy squad than our previous rivals Estonia and of course it affected both the performance and the result.

“We played the match in Innsbruck on the back of a tough physical preparation, while the hosts prepared expressly for this match and looked much fresher.

“We suffered physically and had some problems with decision-making late in the match.

“It became obvious at the very end after we levelled the score at 2-2.”

The 2004 European player of the year said only official matches at Euro 2012, which Ukraine co-host with Poland, will show whether his team was ready for the tournament.

“We were not preparing specially for the friendly matches,” he said. “Those matches were necessary for our manager to garner information and to draw the conclusions to prepare the team for the tournament properly.

“I believe only the campaign-opening match with Sweden on June 11 will reflect in which physical and mental conditions our team come into the tournament.”

Shevchenko – who helped Ukraine reach the 2006 World Cup quarter-finals where they were beaten by eventual champions Italy – also confirmed his decision to quit international football after the championship, adding that his future club career remained uncertain.

“I will definitely conclude my international career after the European championship,” Shevchenko said.

“I didn’t yet finalise the decicion about my club career. I have several offers but I still need to decide which one is the most interesting. Meanwhile, my contract with Dynamo Kiev has already expired.”

Ukraine will play their last warm-up match later Tuesday against Turkey in Germany.

The co-hosts were drawn in Group D with two-time European champions and 1998 World Cup winners France, England and Sweden.

-AFP


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