Ukraine coach Blokhin expects 'nervous' England

Ukraine coach Blokhin expects 'nervous' England

Published Jun. 18, 2012 7:42 p.m. ET

While Ukraine needs to win to stay in its home European Championship, England has the pressure to live up to its billing.

Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin said England, which only needs a draw, will be ''more nervous'' than his team for their decisive Group D match on Tuesday.

''They are supposed to win,'' Blokhin said Monday. ''It would be very unexpected (if they didn't). I think they are more nervous. We have nothing to lose.''

Blokhin was keen to put England in a favorites' position.


''I really think we should consider England as leaders in the European Championship,'' he said. ''We should not think about Wayne Rooney. He is one of the best strikers in the world, but we should think of the team as a whole. They are very strong.''

Blokhin said he wouldn't blame his players if they failed to qualify for the quarterfinals.

''Nobody expects us to fly to the moon. Our approach to this game is more relaxed,'' he said. ''If we have not such a good result, but show a fight until the last minute, it's not a shame.''

After stunning Sweden 2-1 in the opener last week, Ukraine saw euphoria spreading all over the country, raising the hopes of millions of football fans that the home nation could cause an upset at Euro 2012.

However, a lackluster performance resulting in a 2-0 defeat against France on Friday turned the tables and led to Ukrainian fans booing their national team.

Blokhin criticized the lack of support in that match, but expected fans to get behind the team again for the clash with England.

''I think we'll have great support. They will be our 12th player,'' the coach said. ''We shouldn't say to our nation that we will become European champion, but they are allowed to expect good play from us.''

Goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov added that ''the support of the fans is the most important. Without their support, football is boring.''

Pyatov said the team had put the demoralizing defeat by France behind it and was ready to take on England.

''We are in a good mood,'' he said. ''What happened is now in the past. We are focused on England.''

Striker Marko Devic was expected to start if captain Andriy Shevchenko doesn't recover in time from a left knee injury.

''Tomorrow will be very important for Ukraine,'' Devic said. ''This is a historical match.''