Pressure on England, not co-hosts, says Ukraine manager Oleh Blokhin

 

Ukraine coach Oleh Blokhin claims all the pressure is on England and not the co-hosts in tonight's make or break Euro 2012 group clash in Donetsk.

Blokhin, who is sweating over the fitness of veteran striker Andriy Shevchenko, believes England are one of the favourites in the tournament.

But claims that Ukraine "have nothing to lose" are unlikely to pacify home supporters if they fail to gain the victory needed to progress to the quarter-finals.

Blokhin said: "We should consider England as leaders in the European Championships. They also have problems because if they lose tonight it will be unexpected.

"There will be big problems for them, but it's not the same for us. The England team will be more nervous. We have nothing to lose.

"They are one of the favourites and are expected to play in the final. Nobody expects that we will fly to the moon.

"It would be fantastic, but that's another thing. The fans should expect good play, but we shouldn't say to our nation 'we'll win the Euros'. They shouldn't shoot at us if we lose."

Blokhin lost his cool as questions persisted in his pre-match media conference about Shevchenko who is battling to overcome a knee injury.

Blokhin initially said: "After the game against France, Shevchenko had an injured knee and we are doing everything possible to prepare him for the game.

"Our team doesn't have many stars like France, Italy or Spain. Shevchenko's role is very big, especially in the attacking line. There's no other striker who's so good in Ukraine.

"I think if he's not able to play tomorrow it will be a big loss for us.

"I said already that the chances are 50-50. I can't only think about Shevchenko as I have other options. The decision will be made before dinner tomorrow."

Blokhin started to become agitated after being asked why Shevchenko had failed to make a big impact at Chelsea and then whether the striker should retire after Euro 2012.

He said: "Let's call Shevchenko and ask Shevchenko. I don't have only Shevchenko in my team. I don't look good in front of my players if I talk only about Shev, his career and his private life.

"I have 22 other players. Stop asking about Shevchenko. The subject is closed. It's 50-50. I will make a decision tomorrow."

PA

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