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UEFA European qualifiers

Rebrov wary of Malta threat as Ukraine step up bid for Euro qualification

Serhiy Rebrov is not underestimating the threat posed by Malta as Ukraine look to keep up the pressure on Italy in the race for a top-two finish in Group C with victory at the National Stadium on Tuesday night.

The Ukrainians are heading into the match in high spirits as Saturday’s 2-0 win over North Macedonia has lifted the team to second place in the group on ten points, level with Italy, who, however, have played a game less.

With the Azzurri facing group leaders England at Wembley Stadium, Ukraine have the perfect opportunity to try and take charge in the race for second spot in the group ahead of next month’s crucial direct encounter against Italy.

Speaking to the media ahead of the match, Rebrov said that he is expecting a very tough challenge from Malta and has urged his players to treat the match very seriously.

“We have already seen how dangerous can be in our previous meeting,” said Rebrov in reference to Ukraine’s 1-0 win in Slovakia earlier this year.

“I believe they played an open game in the previous match, trying to create opportunities, and they had enough of them in the first half.

“We must be very focused – an important game lies ahead. It is as important as the one against North Macedonia. I am confident that all players understand what the game will be like. It will be a tough game, just like in Slovakia. That is why we are preparing very seriously.”

For Tuesday night’s match Rebrov will be without Ruslan Malinovskyi who is suspended.

“Unfortunately, Malinovskyi cannot take part in the match as he has three yellow cards. Denis Popov has recovered and started working with the group. All players are recovering and ready for the match,” he said.

The Ukrainian coach was coy on whether Nazariy Rusyn will be part of his starting XI on Tuesday.

“Let’s see, there is still training today. But I am grateful to Nazariy – he is a professional, he works, and there are no questions. His call-up to the national team is a great respect for him. He is working together with all the guys and has a chance to appear in the lineup tomorrow,” Rebrov concluded.

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