Ukraine v England: Big game or not, Ukraine coach Mykhailo Fomenko has little to say on tonight's World Cup qualifier

Kiev hosts the crucial Group H qualifier

If it is that typical ex-footballer’s bonhomie, cheerful stories about the past or even some sly provocation of the opposition you want, it is fair to say that the Ukraine coach Mykhailo Fomenko is not your man.

The manager who will be in the home dugout tonight at the Olympic Stadium approached his pre-match press conference yesterday with a reticence that was entertaining in its own way, although unintended. He sighed, he mumbled, he gave very short answers and when it came to what might loosely be described as a rallying call, it was so half-baked that the interpreter had to ask him to repeat it.

Would tonight’s World Cup qualifier against England be the game of his life? “Not just my life,” he replied and there was a smattering of applause from the Ukraine reporters present, who seem to like that kind of thing. They have judged him on results which, including a 1-1 draw with England last September, put Ukraine in third place, one point behind England and Montenegro, the latter having played one game more.

Fomenko is certainly no Oleg Blokhin who, at Euro 2012, invited one disputatious journalist outside for a “man-conversation” but also made some unpleasant pronouncements about black players in Ukraine that could less easily be explained away as over-exuberance. Fomenko is a former USSR international who played for the Dynamo Kiev team of the mid-1970s that won three Soviet Union league titles.

What did he know about Rickie Lambert, the Ukraine coach was asked. “It’s a secret,” he replied, and that was one of his more detailed answers. Fomenko went through a period in his career when he struggled for work, coaching Guinea for a while and then answering to the late Uday Hussein during a brief period as Iraq manager. One of Fomenko’s adult children died in a car accident, although those who know him say that he has always been pretty taciturn.

The locals have a quiet confidence that their side will offer quite a challenge to a depleted England side. The goalscorer from that game at Wembley, Yevhen Konoplyanka, is one of their best players, alongside his Dnipro team-mate, the striker Roman Zozulya.

After the disappointment of Ukraine’s failure to get out the group stages at Euro 2012, the country’s football federation tried to appoint first Harry Redknapp and then Sven Goran Eriksson as a successor to Blokhin. They certainly decided on a different direction with Fomenko.

Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
News
peopleComedian star of Ed Sullivan Show was mother to Ben Stiller
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?