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Oleksandr Petrakov pushes Ukraine for more

Published: Monday 14 July 2014, 9.37CET
Ukraine are in the finals for the first time since their 2009 triumph, and coach Oleksandr Petrakov is motivated by two recent defeats against Group B opponents.
Oleksandr Petrakov pushes Ukraine for more
Ukraine coach Oleksandr Petrakov ©Nick Taylor
Published: Monday 14 July 2014, 9.37CET

Oleksandr Petrakov pushes Ukraine for more

Ukraine are in the finals for the first time since their 2009 triumph, and coach Oleksandr Petrakov is motivated by two recent defeats against Group B opponents.

Coach Oleksandr Petrakov has revenge on his mind as Ukraine prepare to return to the UEFA European Under-19 Championship for the first time since lifting the trophy five years ago.

UEFA.com: How do you assess Ukraine's performance in the elite round?

Oleksandr Petrakov: Since we won the group, my assessment is undoubtedly very high. I would give us five out of five.

UEFA.com: Your first match will be against reigning champions Serbia. What do you expect?

Petrakov: We played them in September at the Stefan Vilotić memorial tournament in Serbia and lost 2-0. So what I expect is to get revenge.

UEFA.com: Do you know what Bulgaria will offer?

Petrakov: We played them too in a friendly on 5 March and lost 1-0. I don't think Bulgarian football is now on the back seat in Europe. They have a very interesting team, one that Bulgaria haven't had for quite a long time. They are a very decent group – but I also expect us to make amends against them.

UEFA.com: Germany collected nine points in the elite round. Do you see them as your main rivals in the group?

Petrakov: I believe Germany are the biggest favourites to win outright. I am dead certain that Germany will make it to the final.

UEFA.com: Which tasks do you set for your team?

Petrakov: I set our minimum task a long time ago – to qualify for the 2015 FIFA [U-20] World Cup in New Zealand.

UEFA.com: What are Ukraine's main strengths?

Petrakov: Never-say-die attitude, fighting spirit, will to win and a tight-knit group.

UEFA.com: How does your squad compare to the one that won the title in 2009?

©Sportsfile

Denys Garmash celebrates scoring in the 2009 finals

Petrakov: They're are two different generations, though I would be happy to have [2009 champion] Denys Garmash at my disposal now.

UEFA.com: Several members of your team have played for FC Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Youth League. Does that give them something extra?

Petrakov: The experience boosted their confidence. The lads saw they can compete as equals against any other team. They drew 1-1 against Manchester United FC in England and qualified for the round of 16. It gave them confidence for our [elite round] game against England, which we won [1-0]. It was also great experience of taking part in an international tournament, something we lack badly in Ukraine.

UEFA.com: What can tournaments like the U19 championship teach young players?

Petrakov: They demonstrate how Europe's best young players play; we have to learn from them. It will probably take some time for the situation to change in Ukraine and for our players to learn the right attitude towards football from their peers. I want my lads to progress, become players of a good standard and be able to play for big European clubs.

Last updated: 15/07/14 14.50CET

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