"We'll play for the win," was the call from FC Dynamo Kyiv coach Oleh Blokhin despite his side needing just a point against an SK Rapid Wien team also chasing qualification.
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FC Dynamo Kyiv coach Oleh Blokhin will leave nothing to chance when his charges take on SK Rapid Wien for a place in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 on Thursday.
A draw will suffice for Dynamo – one point above their Austrian guests in second spot – to advance, but Blokhin insists his players will approach the winner-takes-all showdown with a positive mindset. "Everyone is aware that a point will be enough, but we'll play to win," said the 61-year-old. "If you tell your team their task is simply not to lose, they usually come away with a poor result. It's really important to finish the first part of the season on a winning note."
Any suggestion Dynamo could have one eye on the winter break was quickly dismissed by Blokhin, who sounded a positive note about his side's mentality. "The players are not thinking about holidays yet, everyone is 100% focused on the next match. We have not finished the job, so all the players are desperate to win," he said.
Defender Aleksandar Dragovic shared his mentor's sentiments, being eager to atone for Dynamo's 3-1 reverse at Group G winners KRC Genk on matchday five. "It will be nice to meet Rapid again and I'm expecting a decent game," enthused the 22-year-old Austrian international, recalling the 2-2 draw in the corresponding fixture in October. "It was disappointing to lose to Genk, but now we are even more motivated to put in a good performance. I have no doubt we will win tomorrow."
Rapid Wien coach Zoran Barisic, meanwhile, has his troops committed to doing whatever is needed to get the result that will extend their European participation into the new year. "We must do all we can to achieve our goal," he said, calling on his team to give Dynamo nothing. "We have to play as a unit all the time, we need to be really attentive in defence. The most important thing is not to make mistakes. If we avoid mistakes Dynamo could get nervous and lose confidence. If we do this, we can fulfil our plan and win. We need to withstand their pressure and force them into errors."
Midfielder Steffen Hofmann echoed his coach's call, optimistic that a last-32 berth is well within Rapid's reach. "We are playing away to a very good side, but this is football and anything is possible here. The game lasts 90 minutes and we will have enough time to find our way to Dynamo's goal. I cannot say we feel a lot of pressure – we know our aim and we know what to do. I hope we are going to succeed."