Pressure on Italy: Blokhin

Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin was upbeat ahead of his side’s quarter final match against Italy in Hamburg on Friday.

    Up in the air: Oleg Blokhin after Ukraine defeated Switzerland

    Blokhin, 1975 European Footballer of the Year, conceded that his European rivals were the favourites for the match, and hinted that he was content with how far his side had come at their maiden World Cup Finals tournament.

    "In my opinion, the pressure is on Italy as they are the favourites. At this stage, each match is a bonus for us," said Blokhin.

    The former Dynamo Kiev striker won seven Soviet league titles during the 1970s and 80s which included 211 goals in 432 league matches, and 42 goals in 112 for the USSR.

    The 53 year old missed his side’s penalty shoot-out against Switzerland after he left the sidelines ahead of the spot-kick drama in which Ukraine triumphed 3-0 after some woeful Swiss shooting.

    "I withdrew to the dressing room. I couldn't take it anymore," Blokhin said.

    "The teams were very equal. We just had more luck like Russian roulette.

    ''After extra time I just told my team you have to settle this amongst yourself who is going to take the penalties," he added.

    With many teams at the Finals being criticised for the style in which they have been playing rather than praised for the final result, Blokhin took note of the Carlos Alberto Parreira method of coaching, stressing that it doesn’t matter how you win, as long as you get the result.

    "People keep telling me who to play and who not. But the Brazilian coach says it's not so important how we play but that we win.

    "He's right."

    Substance over style may indeed be the way it turns out as Ukraine take on Italy on Friday.

    SOURCE: AFP


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