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Andriy Shevchenko has stressed the importance of keeping a clean sheet in the first instalment of FC Dynamo Kyiv's UEFA Champions League play-off tie against AFC Ajax as the Ukrainian club seek to qualify for the group stage for a fifth successive season.
The 33-year-old did not feature in the much-changed Dynamo team who lost their first Premier League game of the campiagn on Saturday, 3-1 at FC Vorskla Poltava. With the visit of Ajax looming, coach Valeriy Gazzaev rested several regulars, naming Taras Mikhalik, Roman Eremenko and Miloš Ninković – fit again after a back injury – among the substitutes while Shevchenko and Andriy Yarmolenko were not even in the 18.
Shevchenko, a scorer of six goals in seven matches this term, was in Germany at the weekend for a routine check-up on a persistent back problem. He said: "We'll play against a very skilful opponent. At this stage there are no weak teams, and only the strongest will qualify for the group stage. In the first match at home we have to keep a clean sheet, but the most important objective is to score."
While Dynamo have no injury concerns, Ajax coach Martin Jol has travelled without No2 goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer (hamstring) but can call on prolific striker and captain Luis Suárez following a two-game domestic suspension. In the Uruguayan international's absence, Ajax recovered from a goal down to defeat BV Vitesse 4-2 at the weekend, though Jol was far from happy with the manner of his team's defending.
"We'll get Suárez back against Kyiv; he's a very important player," said Jol, who has included 18-year-old midfielder Roly Bonevacia in the squad after he made his debut against Vitesse, and Eyong Enoh following his father's funeral in Cameroon. "We will have to be more focused defensively because if we concede two goals there things will become really difficult.
"We want to progress and try to give them a hard time but, as always, we will still have to hunt for a goal ourselves," he added. "If you score away from home, certainly if you score two, it [the tie] will almost be decided. We are used to the pressure otherwise we would be in the wrong business."
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