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

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.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'I felt like that was the lowest I’d ever felt'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
News
A plane flies close to the eruption of the Icelandic volcano
newsAnd yes, it's quite something
Sport
Tito Vilanova passed away aged just 45
footballThe club's former manager died in April, less than a year after he stood down
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch
artAnd it's even for a good cause
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Life and Style
techCriminals are targeting an e-reader security flaw
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
News
newsBut just how much does a 122-carat coloured diamond go for these days?
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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week