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Oct 22, 2013

Ukraine: We can get past France

Ukraine are convinced they can qualify for the World Cup at France's expense, despite never having beaten them.

Didier Deschamps' side travel to Ukraine for the first leg of their World Cup playoff on Nov. 15, with the return being played in Paris four days later.

France have not been beaten by Ukraine in seven encounters and won their last two matches in Ukraine, a friendly in 2011 and a group match at Euro 2012.

But Ukraine coach Mykhaylo Fomenko believes his team can be confident after finishing just behind England in their World Cup qualifying group.

"In sport, the team who is afraid loses," he told Interfax. "So it's not worth being afraid… we can’t think on what might have happened if we’d been drawn against another team."

His assistant, Oleksander Zavarov, said Ukraine had hoped for a more favourable draw, adding: "Every potential team would have been difficult, but that's really the one we wanted to avoid.

"We took a very long road to get here and the players deserve this battle to have a chance of going to the World Cup. I think France will take us seriously, given how we got here."

Former Bayer Leverkusen and Liverpool striker Andriy Voronin also lamented the draw, telling Le Parisein: "They’re clearly the favourites. Their last outings prove that they're rediscovering some good form.

"I know Franck Ribery well because I played against him and followed him in the Bundesliga. He's taken on another dimension at Bayern Munich. So it will be crucial to control him well."

However, former France international Benoit Tremoulinas, now at Dynamo Kiev, had a warning for the French.

"There are some really good players in this Ukrainian team," RMC quoted him as saying. "I don’t know if they’re capable of eliminating France, but Ukraine is a country that is continuously progressing year on year.

"They have a lot of promising young players. It's necessary to take them and their very good young players very seriously."

Defender Artem Fedetskiy, meanwhile, said Ukraine had gained valuable experience after battling back to reach the playoffs after picking up only two points from their first three qualifiers.

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