Kraine’s players are beyond reproach, head coach Oleksandr Petrakov said after losing the World Cup play-offs to Wales on Sunday.
An own goal from Andriy Yarmolenko and a man of the match performance from keeper Wayne Hennessey saw Wales win 1-0 at Cardiff.
Asked what he said to Yarmolenko, whose misdirected header from a Gareth Bale free-kick flew into his own net for the winner, a dejected Petrakov said he simply thanked him, as well than all players.
“I can only say thank you for everything he has done for the team. I have no criticism of any of the players in the team. There is no need to touch any of the players “, did he declare.
“If you want to criticize, criticize me, the head coach. If the team wins, it’s the players. If it loses, the only loser is the coach.
“I think we did everything we could, but I want the people of Ukraine to remember our team, our efforts. I mean sorry we didn’t score but that’s sport, it happens . I’m at a loss for words, I don’t know what to say,” he added.
Throughout the build-up to this week’s matches, Petrakov made impassioned comments about the war in his country following the Russian invasion in February. Russia calls the invasion “a special military operation.”
“You know what is happening in Ukraine, we have wars all over the country, children and women are dying daily and our infrastructure is being destroyed by Russian barbarians,” he said.
“The Russians want to hurt us and we just want your support. God forbid if it hurts any of you,” he added.
Additional Reuters reporting.