Coach says Shevchenko and Rebrov ready for final warmup
KIEV, June 5: Strikers Andriy Shevchenko and Serhiy Rebrov should be fit to start in Ukraine's final tune-up friendly match this week against Luxembourg, coach Oleg Blokhin said in an interview published today.
Neither player is likely to start in the match scheduled for Monday against Libya in the eastern Swiss town of Gossau. ''If everything goes well, he will be able to play in the warm-up match against Luxembourg on Thursday,''Blokhin told the Russian daily Sport-Express, referring to Shevchenko. ''I hope Rebrov will also be in proper shape by then.'' Shevchenko is recovering from a knee injury sustained while playing for AC Milan and has in the meantime completed a transfer to English premier league side Chelsea. Rebrov is nursing a hip injury initially deemed not serious by doctors.
Blokhin said he was generally pleased with the performance of his squad at a scoreless match last week against Italy in Lausanne, though he said defenders had not been adventurous enough in the first half.
''We had to make a few adjustments at half time and things went better in the second half. We controlled the ball, calmed down and play moved away from our half of the field,'' he said.
''I am quite pleased with the physical state of the team, though less so with its psychological state.'' Blokhin has said the match with Italy was meant to approximate Ukraine's opening match with Spain, while Thursday's encounter against Libya was aimed at adjusting to their other opponents in Germany -- Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.
He has set as the team's minimum aim getting through to the second round of the tournament.
Blokhain also told Sport-Express that he hoped four players from the under-21 side due to join the squad after losing in the European Championship to the Netherlands would provide backup to his injury-ridden ranks.
They include keeper Andriy Piatov, defender Olexander Yatsenko and forwards Dmytro Chigrinsky and Artem Milevsky.
Blokhin also said team officials had thoroughly analysed Spain's preparatory matches against Russia and Egypt and would be watching their last match against Croatia closely. A change in emphasis had been noted, he said.
''This Spanish team differs from its predececessors in that it pays considerable attention to defence,'' he told the daily. ''I think earlier Spanish teams placed greater emphasis on attack.''