Scotland v Ukraine: World Cup play-off 'must be decided on the grass'

Ukraine head coach Andriy Shevchenko has inisisted that his side's delayed World Cup play-off against Scotland must be decided on the pitch.

The semi-final tie was due to be played at Hampden this Thursday but has been postponed until June due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine following the Russian invasion.

The winner will face either Wales or Austria for a place in Qatar 2022 later this year, however, doubts remain over whether Ukraine will be able to field a side, with some calls made for Scotland to forfeit the tie, while there are also suggestions Steve Clarke's side could receive a bye.

But Shevchenko, who is also Ukraine's all-time leading goalscorer, is adamant that the Glasgow encounter should go ahead, provided he can put a team together and prepare properly.

Ukraine manager Andriy Shevchenko wants the World Cup play-off against Scotland to go ahead. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Advertisement

Hide Ad

The Ukrainian domestic league where the majority of international players are based has been shut down, while men aged 18-60 are not permitted to leave the country, with some players reportedly opting to join the military effort.

Speaking to The Times, Shevchenko said: “Sport has to be sport, always. The right way is for things to be decided on the grass. If we have a chance to bring in all the players, whether it is June, July or August, it has to be done on the pitch.

“Fifa and Uefa have made the right decision, and made it straight away to reschedule the game for June. We all hope this war is going to stop and give us the chance to prepare for the game.

“But there are some players who are still missing, who are stuck in places like Mariupol and Kharkiv and not answering their phones. Others have spent 18 or 19 days underground, trying to shelter from the attack.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

“If the team has a proper chance to prepare, they will want the match to be played. That is the right and the proper way to decide who goes through.”

Get a year of unlimited access to all The Scotsman's sport coverage without the need for a full subscription. Expert analysis of the biggest games, exclusive interviews, live blogs, transfer news and 70 per cent fewer ads on Scotsman.com - all for less than £1 a week. Subscribe to us today

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.