Ukraine hosts Greece in World Cup playoff

Ukraine is playing down its home advantage for Wednesday’s World Cup playoff against Greece.

The countries played out a 0-0 draw on Saturday in the first leg in Athens, so a win for either team in Donetsk would earn a spot at next year’s World Cup in South Africa.

“At the moment I think the chances are the same as before – 50-50,” Ukraine coach Oleg Mykhailychenko said. “The match is like a final, where everything depends on one result.”

Greece can advance on away goals with a draw if both teams score. If the two teams remain goalless, they will play extra time and then possibly have a penalty shootout.

Ukraine, which is looking to qualify for its second straight World Cup after its debut in 2006, has no new injury concerns after Saturday’s match. Striker Serhiy Nazarenko, the team’s second-leading scorer in qualifying, is still out with an injury.

Greece, the 2004 European champion, has defender Vassilis Torisidis and goalkeeper Costas Halkias out, and coach Otto Rehhagel called up defenders Giorgos Tzavelas and Giorgos Galitsios.

“We all believe we can get through,” Greece defender Vangelis Moras. “There’s a feeling of positive energy in the team.”

Veteran striker Angelos Charisteas said Greece would put pressure on the Ukrainians.

“It doesn’t matter who (of us) scores, but I am very confident (one of us) will,” Charisteas said.

Mykhailychenko said his team has not made any special preparations for a penalty shootout.

“As the saying goes, ‘Until I bought tablets, my head didn’t hurt,”‘ Mykhailychenko said. “We want to win the match in normal time.”