About 2,300 kilometers from Cardiff, optimistic Ukrainian fans gathered in Kyiv to sing along to the national team before their main fight against Wales.
But after missing out on a number of troubling opportunities by Ukrainian players, the silence was greeted with a final whistle as Wales’ 1-0 win shattered the war-torn country’s hopes of qualifying for the World Cup.
“(Here) there is strong frustration. Many people wanted this victory, this victory was very important for the Ukrainian people, “Pavlo, a 32-year-old IT expert, told AFP just minutes after the game.
“I think the boys gave it their all. (It) is unfortunate. Statistics show that the advantage was in our favor. But unfortunately, it happens. “
Ukraine’s national team made the country proud by beating Scotland 3-1 in their first competitive clash since the Russian attack on Wednesday.
But Gareth Bale’s free-kick in Sunday’s play-off final at Cardiff City Stadium, which Ukraine captain Andrei Yarmolenko turned into his own net, refused to give Ukraine a place in Qatar.
Dozens of fans flock to the basement halls of the Kutovie (Corner) pub in downtown Kyiv to watch the match on the big screen, hoping for a win, which could only take Ukraine to the World Cup for the second time since they started the game. Independent Nation, 2006.
Success would also bring some joy to a war-torn nation.
“For each of us, this will be a moral support,” Alexei Pavlov, a 23-year-old marketer, told AFP in hopes of winning the match.
“This will be support for areas that are currently under fire or that are under occupation.”
“Victory will boost morale for our military and for Ukraine as a whole,” agrees another fan, Sergei Palamarchuk, 34.
Located near the Olympiaski Stadium in Kiev, the pub is a favorite spot for fans of Ukrainian giant Dynamo Kiev.
Four Dynamo players were selected for Ukraine’s starting lineup against Wales but failed to beat Bell’s side.
“The boys have given up everything on the football field. Of course, I wish they had beaten Wales earlier as a Scottish team, but, unfortunately, that didn’t happen, “Fan Eger Kobzer, 27, told AFP after whistling.
“Today’s victory would have added a lot of positive energy. But the boys fought, there were a lot of shots, there were chances to score, so you can’t blame them for something wrong, “said an IT engineer wearing the yellow jersey of the Ukrainian national team.
“Life goes on. And today we have many more important battles, not on the football field, but on the battlefield. Ukraine’s armed forces have set an example of how to fight on your own battlefield. “
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