by user Bobo

Ukraine are the last debut team in the World Cup this year, alongside Angola and Trinidad and Tobago. Qualifying at the expense of Denmark, several of Zbirna's players had previously played for the Russian national team. Since 2000, they have been stopped from qualifying by several rival teams, including Slovenia, Croatia and Germany in three international competitions.

The team's former stars in the early years include Oleh Luzhny and Oleksiy Mykhaylichenko and their current stars include Yuri Dmitrulin, star of Dynamo Kyiv since 1992.

The Ukrainians caused a surprise in qualifying, getting through a tough group including Turkey, Denmark and Greece, the latter failing to qualify from the tournament. Ukraine's only blip in the tournament came in their home of Kiev, where they failed to beat an in-form Turkey side.

Ukraine occupy Group H, with the superstars of Spain, the minnows of Saudi Arabia and former African Nations Cup champions Tunisia.

Judging by the state of the group, the best anyone can really hope for, Spain notwithstanding, is a fight for second place. If the Ukraine keep winning, this is possible, however, with Oleh Blokhin's alleged criticism of their preparations, this may just bring them down a notch too far.

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