By Pavle Gognidze & Luke Williams
FC Dynamo Kyiv are determined to shrug off their injury woes and make life tough for Newcastle United FC when the sides meet in their UEFA Champions League Group E opener on Wednesday.
For the Ukrainian hosts, though, their sixth successive Champions League campaign in a row is tinged with sadness due to the absence of former coach Valeri Lobanovskiy, who died in May. Lobanovskiy's successor Olexiy Mykhaylichenko is, at 39, the youngest top-flight coach in Ukraine – quite a contrast with Newcastle's 69-year-old manager Sir Bobby Robson, who is very much the elder statesman of English football.
On the eve of their latest European adventure Mykhaylichenko paid tribute to his predecessor. "Lobanovskiy taught us to trust in ourselves," he said. "Now our task is to add to the club's tradition." Dynamo overcame Armenian champions FC Pyunik and Bulgarian title holders PFC Levski Sofia in the qualifying rounds, and are determined to continue this form against Newcastle and the other two sides in the group, Feyenoord and Juventus FC.
Crippling injury list
This task has not been aided by a crippling injury list that has seen Dynamo lose eleven senior players to the treatment table in the past two months. New Brazilian arrivals Leandro and Diogo Rincon have provided some compensation by scoring two goals each in the record 8-0 league win against FC Vorskla Poltava last week, while Badr El Kaddouri, Goran Sablic and Jerko Leko have also arrived at the club.
Husin postpones surgery
Goalkeeper Olexander Shovkovsky will be absent after picking up an injury against Vorkla, but Goran Gavrancic, László Bodnár and Andriy Nesmachniy are all eyeing returns and Andriy Husin has postponed surgery especially to take part in the Champions League.
'We are not afraid'
"We understand that the first game in the Champions League will always be nervy," said Dynamo left-back Nesmachniy. "But we are not afraid of Newcastle." Given the Magpies' recent form this lack of fear is not surprising. Although they disposed of FK Zeljeznicar handily enough in the qualifying round their domestic results have been disappointing - with just one win from their opening five games.
Robson has targeted Wednesday’s game as a potential pick-me-up. "We have to stop this run of bad defeats and get back to winning ways," Robson said. "This is a monumental week for us with a tough away game and then, I guess, our biggest match of the season three days later with the local derby against Sunderland [AFC]."
Aware of the threat
Robson, who has previously coached FC Porto and PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League, is aware of the threat posed by Dynamo. "They have been a top continental team for years and have played a lot of European football," he said.
Chopra in squad
Craig Bellamy is favourite to play up front alongside Newcastle captain Alan Shearer, while Robson also included 18-year-old striker Michael Chopra in his squad as a replacement for the club's only injury victim, Carl Cort.
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