Ukraine confident ahead of Greek clash

DONETSK - Ukraine have a sense of superiority heading into the second leg of their World Cup play-off against Greece on Wednesday and this time they are ready to back it up with a more adventurous game plan.

The Ukrainians, captained by Andriy Shevchenko, created few clear chances in Saturday's goalless stalemate in Athens and coach Olexiy Mikhailichenko is promising a new sense of purpose as they seek a place in South Africa next year.

"We must play more aggressively and varied in attack if we want to win this game and secure qualification," the coach told reporters on Monday.

"Greece's philosophy is solid defending and aiming to score from set-pieces, however, so we will have to prepare for that. We have to deprive them of the chance of counter-attacking as well as playing more attacking ourselves."

While Ukraine were happy to let Shevchenko roam as a lone striker in the first leg, Mikhailichenko is set to give licence to Artem Milevskiy and Oleh Gusev to play in more advanced roles in a formation which switches from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3.

Bayern Munich's Anatoly Tymoshchuk will play a pivotal role in this system as central midfield enforcer, and he is supremely confident of a Ukraine victory.

"There is a sense of superiority for us against Greece; we have a feeling that we will win," said Tymoshchuk.

"But we can say whatever we want, everything will be judged out on the pitch."


Greece coach Otto Rehhagel will also be under pressure to adopt a more attacking stance, after the Greek media questioned his decision to field a five-man defence on Saturday.

The 71-year-old German may opt to tinker with his system to accommodate exciting teenage midfielder Sotiris Ninis, who has been in impressive form for Panathinaikos.

Rehhagel is sweating on the fitness of Giorgos Karagounis and Sotiris Kyrgiakos, neither of whom trained with the main group on Monday.

Defender Giorgos Galitsios, who earned an emergency first call-up is optimistic that the Greeks can pull off a surprise.

"It's a special honour to be called up but the only thing which interests us now is taking a positive result in Ukraine so we can qualify for the World Cup," he said. "If we play to our strengths then I believe we can do it."

Possible teams:

Greece: 12-Alexandros Tzorvas; 5-Evangelos Moras, 15-Sokratis Papastathopoulos, 16-Sotiris Kyrgiakos, 4-Nikos Spiropoulos; 6-Sotiris Ninis, 10-Giorgos Karagounis, 8-Konstantinos Katsouranis; 14-Dimitris Salpigidis, 17-Theofanis Gekas, 7-Giorgos Samaras

Ukraine: 12-Andriy Pyatov; 16-Vasyl Kobin, 3-Oleksander Kucher, 14-Evgen Khacheridi, 2-Yaroslav Rakytsky; 9-Oleh Gusev, 4-Anatoly Tymoschuk, 17-Taras Mykhalyk, 18-Ruslan Rotan; 10-Artem Milevskiy, 7-Andriy Shevchenko

Referee: Olegario Benquerenca (Portugal)