Coach Gennadiy Lysenchuk led Ukraine to Futsal EURO silver in 2001 and 2003 and told UEFA.com that he is determined to achieve a top-three finish again in Croatia.
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Gennadiy Lysenchuk set up the Ukraine team at the start of the 1990s and under his guidance they have become regulars in major tournaments, most notably as runners-up in the 2001 and 2003 UEFA European Futsal Championships. A new generation has since risen under the experienced coach and with holders Spain and Slovenia awaiting in Group B of this year's finals in Croatia, Lysenchuk spoke to UEFA.com about their ambition to make the top three again.
UEFA.com: What are your thoughts about facing Spain and Slovenia?
Gennadiy Lysenchuk: I believe, first of all, that the 12 strongest teams in Europe are playing in the finals, there are no weak opponents. Certainly, there is a top team in Spain, a multiple champion of Europe and the world. They are the most difficult opponents. As for Slovenia, I think we are on equal terms. Slovenia are an ambitious, young team and want to show what they can do; they have never had strong results. We want to win medals again after a long period of time, and we will go to Croatia to get them. Therefore we will do everything to win the group and fight the battle to the very end.
UEFA.com: How would you say the style of your team has evolved in recent years?
Lysenchuk: Traditionally we are used to playing from defence, trying to be strong at the back and looking for the moment to counterattack and score a goal. Today we are varying our tactics more. We are very good at pressing opponents; when necessary we can defend really well; and we are also strong at set pieces.
UEFA.com: We have seen new players come through from Ukraine in the last couple of tournaments. Which ones should we look out for in Croatia?
Lysenchuk: Yes, we have brought youngsters into our team. We have gifted players such as 19-year-old Petro Shoturma, who I'd been trying to get to play for the national team for two years. I hope he will be seen at the finals – he could be a revelation. I think he will be the youngest player in the European Championship.
UEFA.com: You've been to many of these tournaments. Does it please you to see new countries like Turkey taking on the established teams such as Ukraine and Spain?
Lysenchuk: With Turkey, we were in the same qualifying group as them, which was played in Kharkiv in Ukraine. We beat Turkey impressively, but they played very well against their other opponents – Belgium and Hungary – and I must say that Turkey left a very good impression of themselves. Despite being in a strong group with Italy and Russia in Croatia, they won't give up without a fight. They can play and, taking Turkey as an example, we will meet other young teams who will also show what they can do.
UEFA.com: And finally, what are your aims for Ukraine in this tournament? How far do you think you can go?
Lysenchuk: I think we will reach the semi-finals and win one of the medals. Certainly we would like to win gold. We have won silver twice but that was a long time ago, in 2001 in Russia and 2003 in Italy. We have never won bronze. Therefore any of the medals would take pride of place for us.