Very emotional! Ukraine to parade flag from frontline before crunch World Cup playoff

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The flag will be present in the Ukrainian dressing room before their World Cup Final playoff against Wales in Cardiff on Sunday. Ukraine secured a spot in the final following an impressive 3-1 win over Scotland at Hampden Park on Wednesday.

Only hours later they flew to Wales where they received welcome messages when they arrived at Cardiff Airport.

The Football Association of Wales has given 100 tickets to Ukrainian refugees to attend the fixture at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Despite the extraordinary circumstances given the ongoing war in their country, midfielder Oleksandr Karavayev said the Euro 2020 quarter finalists do not expect a free pass or “presents” in Cardiff.

Karavayev, whose family live in Russian occupied Kherson, said they would find it difficult to follow the game.

He said: “They cannot watch the match because there is no connection and internet.

“But they communicate by messages and read the news.

“I had my birthday on June 2 and my mum’s on Friday and it [victory over Scotland] was a nice present for them.

“My friends follow the news and it was also a nice present for them.

“It was very emotional for us and we had very strong support even from Scottish fans.

“We felt that and it helped us. In the last two or three years we had no full stadiums and it’s really good to have that and such support.

“Sport is sport and we don’t expect presents or an unfair win.

“We know how hard it is and it is the most important game of their lives and we really wish to win.We will do everything possible to win.”

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Petrakov said that there was no pressure on Ukraine to win the game but that he felt his country would triumph despite talented players in the Welsh team such as Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Daniel James.

He said: “I do not communicate with any soldiers but my players write to soldiers and they received a flag from the war, which they promised to hang in the dressing room.

“It is a really hard situation in Ukraine and not everybody has a chance to watch football.

“Not everyone does because of many problems. We will try to concentrate tomorrow and have a good game.

“I noted that the [Wales] team is very cooperated and very good, especially Bale, Ramsey and James.

“But I think we are good too and everybody will have the chance to see a good game.”

Wales are looking to qualify for the World Cup finals for the first time since 1958 with Ukraine only having appeared once in 2006 when they reached the Quarter Finals.

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