On June 3, Ukraine defeated Scotland in a FIFA World Cup qualification playoff in what was a monumental victory. As the Eastern European state approached the 100 day of the war against Russia, the Ukrainian senior men’s national football team beat Scotland in Glasgow in a World Cup playoff semi-final.
Ukraine will now play Wales on June 5, where the winner of the football match will qualify directly for this year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
These football matches will mean more than just a spot at the World Cup for Ukraine.
Over the past 100 days, Ukrainians have been ravaged by the unprovoked and unnecessary Russian invasion. Tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians and soldiers have died and nearly 15 million Ukrainians are displaced. Meanwhile, over 31,000 Russian soldiers have perished and billions of dollars of Russian military equipment has been destroyed.
Unfortunately, the war continues without an end. Ukrainian officials estimate that it will cost trillions of dollars to rebuild Ukraine.
Despite these hardships, the Ukrainian national team has given their country a reason to cheer in an otherwise challenging period in their history. Ukrainian national team manager Oleksandr Petrakov recently dedicated Ukraine’s victory over Scotland to the Ukrainian soldiers defending the country.
Now, the Zbirna will need to deliver one more time to qualify for the World Cup. They have managed to unite Ukraine and football fans around the world as they fight for their first World Cup appearance since 2006. Meanwhile, Wales have not qualified for a World Cup since 1958. The stakes could not be higher.
Therefore, the match will be a tense affair. Regardless of the result, the Ukrainian national team has made their nation proud in an otherwise difficult period in Ukrainian history. And now, Ukraine will have all to play for against Wales on Sunday. Will Wales finally earn their first World Cup birth in 64 years? Or will Ukraine’s historic run lead them to the World Cup? Time will tell.
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