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Matviienko: We’ll play to defend the country’s honour

Tuesday, October 11, 2016



In Iceland on October 11, Ukraine U21 national team will have their closing 2017 UEFA European U21 Championship qualifier. The defender of Ukraine U21 and Shakhtar Donetsk Mykola Matviienko shared his expectations ahead of the meeting

One round away from the end of the qualifying competition, Iceland claimed a top spot in our group. What’s the team’s secret according to you?
- Iceland national team are very uncompromising, disciplined, giving their all on the pitch. They have physical players who impose their game and do not allow anyone to get easy control of the ball. To some extent, their leadership came as a surprise, because everyone believed that France were the group favourites. The Icelanders’ game against Ukraine will be decisive, because in case of winning it they will have a chance to make it to the European Championship. However, for us the outcome will also be important: the more points we get in this qualifying competition, the higher the team’s ranking will be at the next draw. So we’ve got enough motivation.

- In the last three matches, Ukraine national team claimed seven points, but it has not helped them in the competition for advancing from the group. What did the team lack in this qualifying round?
- It's hard to say what was wrong in the opening games, because I did not take part in them. But the boys and I have decided that we must fight to the end and try to win every game. It's not just about the points, but also about the country’s honour: when you play for the national team, you feel a special responsibility, and you must give your all on the pitch and fight on, despite the standings. Just so it happened in the games against Scotland and France. We also had to beat Northern Ireland, but we lacked something. I have no doubt that in the match against Iceland everyone will give their one hundred percent.

- In the next qualifying stage, the guys of your generation – born in 1996 and 1997 – will come to the fore. What are the age group’s prospects?
- I think it will be a good team with great prospects, because this age group features many strong players. I hope that this select team will succeed.