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An unlucky number for Ukraine's strikers

Published: Thursday 10 April 2008, 21.00CET
With four players level on 13 goals at the top of the Premier League scorers table, fans fear Ukraine's supply of world-class strikers is running dry.
by Igor Linnyk
from Kiev
An unlucky number for Ukraine's strikers
Olexandr Gladkiy is on course for another Ukrainian top scorer honour ©Oleksandr Zadiraka
Published: Thursday 10 April 2008, 21.00CET

An unlucky number for Ukraine's strikers

With four players level on 13 goals at the top of the Premier League scorers table, fans fear Ukraine's supply of world-class strikers is running dry.

With four players level on 13 goals at the top of the Premier League scorers table, fans fear Ukraine's supply of world-class strikers is running dry.

Next generation
With the best current Ukrainian striker, Andriy Shevchenko and Andriy Voronin, struggling to get a look-in at Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC, concern is being raised about the quality of the next generation of local forwards. Back in the 1990s, the league's top scorers – the likes of Serhiy Rebrov, Maksim Shatskikh, Andriy Vorobey – easily hit over 20 a season. With six league games to go, it is hard to imagine any of the 2007/08 contenders getting anywhere near that.

Low totals
At the moment FC Shakhtar Donetsk's Olexandr Gladkiy, SV Tavriya Simferopol's Volodymyr Gomenyuk, FC Arsenal Kyiv's Yevgen Seleznov and FC Chornomorets Odesa's Olexandr Kosyrin all have 13 goals each. This may represent an improvement of sorts given the outcome of recent striking contests. Last season, Gladkiy was the league's top scorer with 13 goals for FC Kharkiv, while in the previous campaign, 14 goals had been enough for Kosyrin to take the accolade.

Team priority
Still just 20, Gladkiy – who made his international debut in August 2007 – has not scored in five league games, with his side slipping behind FC Dynamo Kyiv in the race for the title, but he is sure that the goals will be flowing again soon. "My team-mates are creating enough chances for me," he said. "I have not always managed to score but I am working on that. Of course I would like to become top scorer again but the team's success is much more important."

Different dreams
At 22, Gomenyuk – nicknamed the Wayne Rooney of the Crimea – is similarly modest, saying: "What matters most is that Tavriya fulfil their aim of earning a UEFA Intertoto Cup place." Seleznov, also 22, has scored 13 times in 19 games for Arsenal while on loan from Shakhtar, but his main concern is his future in Donetsk. "Even if I score a goal less than Gladkiy, they should give me a chance to shine at Shakhtar," he said.

Sensible approach
At 31, former Dynamo star Kosyrin has nothing much left to prove personally, but his primary concern is his side's league status and not the golden boot. "Until we have completed our main task, which is to secure our place in the top flight, there can be no other targets," he said. Spoken like a true veteran, but with his younger rivals not showing the kind of selfish goalscoring desire that many would like, some fear that no one wants to be Ukraine's top scorer badly enough.

Last updated: 11/04/08 1.43CET

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