Slovenia v Ukraine: Fomenko desperate to end play-off curse


Ukraine coach Mikhail Fomenko will bear past failures in mind as he looks to end his country's disastrous play-off record by reaching Euro 2016.

A 2-0 victory in the home leg against Slovenia – courtesy of goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Seleznyov – put his side in full control of the tie ahead of Tuesday's second leg in Maribor, but the nation have been here before.

Ukraine lost a play-off against the same opponents as they failed to reach Euro 2000, with this match taking place 16 years to the day after that loss, as well as losing two-legged ties to reach the 1998, 2002, 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

The most recent failure was a memorable collapse against France. After winning the home leg 2-0, they crumbled to a 3-0 loss in Paris four days later – a fate they are desperate to avoid this time around.

"Of course it would be better to start the tie away, but we cannot change anything with the draw," said Fomenko. 

"We have experience of beating France in a home first leg and we will use that in our preparations this time.

"It is a bit disappointing that we didn't get the third goal, but saying that we didn't concede either. Now we need to calm down.

"We have time, the players can relax and in Maribor we will decide on our line-up. Our players know what they have to do in the second leg."

Slovenia have a solid home record having won five of their last seven competitive fixtures in their own country, with only England handing them defeat.

Ukraine, though, are decent on their travels. In the qualifying group stage they only lost away to Spain, picking up 10 points from their other four matches on the road.

Slovenia head coach Srecko Katanec rued his side's missed chances in the first leg, but insisted the tie is not yet over.

"This is not the end of our campaign," he said.

"We will try to produce our best football at home and will try to secure a result. I decided to take off Josip Ilicic in the first leg because we have another game, so we must be careful with our best players. 

"My congratulations go to Ukraine for the first leg – they scored two goals and this will help them in the tie. It was very disappointing that we missed all our chances, particularly one at the start of the game."