Ukraine is appearing in its first ever World Cup football tournament and hopes to rebound from a disappointing opening match in Germany.
Ukraine suffered a rather demoralizing 4-0 loss to Spain in its opening Group H match last Wednesday in Leipzig. Next up for the former Soviet Republic is Saudi Arabia on Monday night here in Hamburg.
The Saudis, playing in their fifth straight World Cup, battled Tunisia to a hard-fought 2-2 draw in their first game. Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin said he and his players have already put the lopsided loss to Spain out of their mind, knowing that they face another strong challenge.
"The match standing in front of us should be very difficult," said Oleg Blokhin. "We know that Saudi Arabia has played many matches, and they've proven themselves to be a good team and its going to be a difficult match."
Blokhin told a news conference a day before the match that he had not decided how he would set up defensively. He had been very critical of his players effort in their loss to Spain and even apologized publicly to the teams fans. He added he hopes his players noticed how well the U.S. soccer team and Japan bounced back from poor performances in their opening losses to gain hard-earned draws against strong teams from Italy and Croatia, respectively.
Blokhin said now its time for his team to go out and get a result.
"We know that everything depends on this match," he said. "I don't have to tell my players any of that. They know it already. Im sure the players understand that were not tourists here, but World Cup participants. The 4-0 loss taught us a lot. We learned out lessons. We told ourselves that were at the World Cup and every little mistake isn't forgiven here."
The football teams from Ukraine and Saudia Arabia have never played one another before.
In the late Group H game Monday, Spain will take on Tunisia with a chance to clinch one of the two group berths in the World Cups second round.