Soccer-World Cup qualifier against Scotland more than a game, says Ukraine's Khrystiuk

Soccer Football - Women's World Cup - UEFA Qualifiers - Ukraine v Scotland - Stadion Stal, Rzeszow, Poland - June 24, 2022 Ukraine fan in the stands before the match REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel

(Reuters) - Ukraine forward Yuliia Khrystiuk is hopeful that a victory against Scotland in their Women's World Cup qualifier on Friday can bring joy to people back home as the team prepare to play their first game since the Russian invasion in February.

Ukraine, who last played in a 2-0 win against Bulgaria two days before the invasion, need to beat Scotland in the Polish city of Rzeszow to stay in the hunt for a place in the finals in Australia and New Zealand next year.

"First of all, it's very important with the World Cup qualification because we still have a chance to go to the World Cup and it's been such a long time," Khrystiuk told Reuters.

"It's always been such an honour to represent my country for sure. But right now in this situation, I think for everyone, and the same for me, it is something more than just football. And to be a part of the national team today means much more than it usually does."

Manager Lluis Cortes said that his side had a good chance to progress despite the lack of competitive action.

"The most important thing is that we are strong. And if we play as a team and we fight as a team, like all the people in Ukraine are doing now, we will have chances and we will have options to win this match," he said.

"And we have to fight for our country. We have to fight for our people. And we have to fight for our pride."

Spain lead Group B with 18 points from six games, while second-placed Scotland are eight points back and occupy the playoff spot. Ukraine are fourth on four points but have two games in hand.

(Reporting by Denis Dziuba in Rzeszow; Writing by Tommy Lund in Gdansk; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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