Ukraine full back Oleksandr Zinchenko said his team hope to make their country proud when they take on Scotland in a World Cup playoff semi-final next week.
Ukraine play Scotland at Hampden Park on June 1 in a match that was postponed from March due to the Russia’s invasion, which Moscow calls a “special military operation.”
“The first period when it just started, it was so complicated to be focused on football,” Zinchenko told the BBC.
“All my thoughts were with Ukraine, Ukrainian people. I would say for everyone, for every Ukrainian footballer …
“This game is one of the most important games in my life. The guys look ready and it’s not necessary to talk about motivation.”
It will be Ukraine’s first competitive match since the invasion began in February. The Ukrainian Premier League season was abandoned last month.
“The physical condition, obviously without the games, it’s not easy to prepare yourself for the guys that haven’t played for a while,” Zinchenko said.
“In this case, there is no excuses and we have to do our job as best as we can.
“I can promise all the Ukrainian people that every one of us is going to give everything to win the game and to make them proud of us and just maybe for a few seconds we would like to give them this smile.”
The winner of the playoff will face Wales in Cardiff on June 5 for a spot in Qatar later this year.