Scotland looking for ‘bittersweet’ win as Ukraine returns to competitive action

Winner to play Wales in Cardiff for a place at the World Cup in Qatar

For Scotland it is game that could take the men’s team one step closer to the dream of a place in the World Cup finals.

But for opponents Ukraine, the match comes against the nightmare backdrop of war, following the Russian invasion.

The Tartan Army was originally set to play the Ukrainians in March, but after Vladimir Putin ordered his troops into the country in a failed attempt to storm its capital, Fifa agreed to delay the game until June.

Now with the rearranged match about to take place, Scotland fans will be hoping to cheer skipper Andy Robertson and his team on to a sensational victory – while at the same time realising that much of the rest of the world will want to see a Ukraine victory to provide some cheer to the Eastern European nation more than three months on from the Russian invasion.

Someone who knows the turmoil unleashed on Ukraine better than many is Steven Carr, the chairman of Dnipro Kids, who has helped bring dozens of children to the safety of Scotland.

“I would love Scotland to win because Scotland has been deprived of a big championship for a long time,” said the 54-year-old.

“But it’s going to be a bittersweet victory if we do win because, obviously, everybody is 100% behind Ukraine with what’s going on and I don’t think anybody would be too disappointed if Scotland did get beat and Ukraine went on to qualify for the World Cup.

“I don’t think anybody in Scotland would be overly perturbed by that situation. It’ll be a disappointment, but well done to Ukraine and all the best in qualifying.”

The Hampden Park face-off will decide which team will play Wales in Cardiff for a spot in the finals, something Scotland has not achieved since 1998.

Whoever comes out on top will be in the group stages with England, Iran and the United States when the contest is held in Qatar later this year.

Stephan Luczka, a third generation Ukrainian in the UK, is hoping manager Andriy Shevchenko will be able to lead his men to Cardiff and beyond.

“Yes, politics and sport shouldn’t mix and there’s more important things of the war going on at the minute, but it would be a massive uplift for the country and its soldiers,” he said.

And the 34-year-old said most of the world would be backing the Ukrainians.

“The match itself I think every football fan in the world, who isn’t Scottish, will be supporting Ukraine,” he said.

“That’s nothing against Scotland, it’s just the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in for this match, one which, hopefully, will never have to happen again in such a unique circumstance.”

But Scotland fan Ally Morrison said although support of much of the world is behind Ukraine, the game should be seen in isolation.

“It’s a sporting event, it would be disrespectful to the Ukrainian team to treat it as anything different because they are a team of athletes as well and they would want to be treated as a team of athletes,” said the 29-year-old.

“Following the buzz of making it to Euro 2020 a couple of years ago, there’s a new buzz about the Scotland team and Scotland in general now, and I think it’s one of these games where if we win it sets up a final against our Great British rivals, Wales, which is another huge occasion and a massive opportunity to get to a World Cup we haven’t been to since 1998.”

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