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Can 'one-man' Ukraine make their mark?

    22 January 2021 Friday

    Kiev - Ukraine have a rare chance to dispel the myth of being a one man team if they host Denmark in a World Cup qualifier on Wednesday.The Ukrainians, who lead European Group Two with 14 points from six matches, will be without captain and leading player Andriy Shevchenko, who is still recovering after fracturing a cheekbone and an eye socket in a Serie A match.

    The AC Milan striker has scored four goals in five qualifiers to help Ukraine open a three-point lead over European champions Greece, with Denmark joint third in the group and Turkey a further two points behind.

    With the European Player of the Year on the sidelines, the home side will not only miss his scoring touch but more importantly his ability to lead the team in tough situations.

    "Do we miss him? Of course we do," Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin said this week.

    "It's like having two different teams, with Shevchenko or without him in the line-up. But it will give a chance for other senior players to prove their worth and show their leadership qualities," added the former Soviet international.

    At least Blokhin will be allowed to guide his team from the bench after Ukraine's Appeal Court last week reversed an earlier decision and allowed the former Dynamo Kiev striker to keep his job.

    Blokhin resigned this month saying he could not combine the coaching post with his other job as a Ukrainian parliament member, but the court said he could do both.

    Aside from Shevchenko, Ukraine will be missing injured Dynamo Kiev defender Serhiy Fyodorov and suspended Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk midfielder Oleg Shelayev.

    Denmark, quarterfinalists at Euro 2004, beat Kazakhstan 3-0 at home on Saturday for only their second win in six qualifiers but welcome back Real Madrid midfielder Thomas Gravesen from suspension for a tougher assignment in Kiev.

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