Volodymyr Pyatenko: "We set a goal for the girls - to reach League A. The strategic task for our team is to make it to Euro-2025"

From Monday, September 18, the women's national team of Ukraine is in Poland, where it is preparing to participate in the first two matches of the group tournament of the debut draw of the League of Nations. 

The blue-yellow team will compete with teams from Poland, Serbia and Greece in Group B3. The match of the 1st round between Ukraine and Serbia will take place on Friday, September 22 in the Polish town of Starogard-Gdański at the city stadium named after Kazimierz Deyna (start - at 16.00:2 Kyiv time). The match of the 26nd round between Poland and Ukraine will be held on September 19.00 (XNUMX p.m.). It will be hosted by the City Stadium in Gdynia.

Acting the head coach of the national women's team of Ukraine, Volodymyr Pyatenko, told the UAF press service about the challenges for the blue and yellow team in the League of Nations, the new game philosophy and the prospects for the development of women's football in Ukraine in general.

— How do you feel before the start of the debut draw of the League of Nations?

— I feel a great responsibility! It is a great honor for me to be at the head of the national team! Although I have not been working in women's football for so long, I dreamed of trying myself in the national team. Women's football is developing, becoming more and more competitive and interesting. Even the events at the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand testify to this. He is just now demonstrating that the speed, level of tactical and technical training is increasing in women's football, and literally every team can create a sensation and beat the favorite.

— With the beginning of this season, you also headed Kharkiv's Zhytlobud-1. Does this mean that you will combine coaching duties in the club and the national team?

- Yes, I will combine. The management of "Zhytlobudu-1" agreed that I would still work in the national team. Of course, this is an additional burden, but, first of all, it is a matter of prestige for the coach and the team.

— Tell us about your coaching staff in the national team.

— Representatives of the coaching staff and staff who were in the national team before my appointment remain. These are people who are in their places and are professionals in their field. The only personnel update is Talyat Sheykhametov, who will be my assistant in the national team. He worked as an assistant in the youth team under the leadership of Oleksandr Golovko and in the youth national teams of Ukraine.

Photo by Pavlo Kubanov

— What kind of football should the national women's team under the leadership of Volodymyr Pyatenko play?

— I always say that you need to play balanced football. We are not going to just defend or attack. Modern football shows that there are no purely attacking or defensive models, even among the top teams. Everyone plays to the best of their abilities and adapts to their opponents. So we will try to play reliably in defense and aggressive in attack.

We want to instill in the women's national team modern football with an emphasis on fast forward play. It is not about long passes, but that the girls try to play forward at every opportunity. Absolutely everyone knows how to defend themselves today. To open up the defense of any team, you need to play faster on offense. This way you can catch even the highest level opponents by surprise.

— How do you assess the current personnel potential of the national women's team?

— Currently, the national team is going through a change of generations. Of course, I wanted to have several copies of Apanashchenko, a little younger, in the team. Although at 6, Daria remains the leader of the team, she still plays at a high level. But there is a certain age gap between experienced soccer players and young and talented players who have not yet fully revealed their potential and have to assume leadership qualities in the national team.

— On September 22, the first match of the team in the premier draw of the League of Nations will take place. How do you feel about the emergence of international competitions of this kind in women's football? And what prospects do blue-yellow have in the coming cycle?

— The League of Nations is a very relevant format of international competitions for national teams today. Previously, there were control games and friendly tournaments, but in this system, national teams have an order of magnitude higher motivation. After all, the team can go to the European Championship from the League of Nations. Such a tournament is very difficult to overestimate. We have a good selection of opponents in the group. In the same national team of Poland, soccer players play leading roles in the German championship. But we are ready to give them a fight. Everything will be determined by who is better suited functionally, tactically and psychologically to each game.

— How decisive can be the factor that, due to the full-scale Russian military invasion, the Ukrainian team has been forced to play all international matches away from home for a year and a half?

— Of course, it has its influence. We understand that there are many of our compatriots in Poland who will definitely come and support the girls in important matches. But playing at home in front of native stands is still a special atmosphere that gave the team additional strength and motivation. In addition, you have to take into account logistics and moving.

As for the tasks, we set a goal for the girls — to reach League A. The strategic task for our team is to make it to Euro-2025 in Switzerland.

Photo by Pavlo Kubanov

— In your opinion, what is the current state of women's football in Ukraine? Do you see prospects for its development, despite a number of obstacles, in particular the war, due to which the UAF and the VAZF had to be suspended last year competition, and it affected the female soccer players in terms of functional training and psychological state?

— Indeed, first the coronavirus, and later the full-scale Russian military invasion created such problems for Ukrainian women's football that, unfortunately, some teams simply ceased to exist.

But now the new championship of the 2023/2024 season has begun. The naked eye can see that all the participants of the competition have added to the quality of the game. Many clubs are returning players who were forced to leave the country due to the war last year. This led to increased competition and an increase in the level of the championship. In addition, some clubs have also created girls' teams in their structure. This is gratifying and will be exclusively a plus for our national teams.

The squad of the national women's team of Ukraine

Goalkeepers: Kateryna Samson ("Vorskla" Poltava), Daria Kelyushik ("Kryvbas" Kryvyi Rih), Kateryna Boklach ("Marseille", France).

Defenders: Kateryna Korsun, Yana Kotyk, Iryna Podolska, Iryna Kotyash (all "Vorskla" Poltava), Anastasia Voronina ("Colossus" Kovalivka), Lyubov Shmatko ("Galatasaray", Turkey).

Midfielders: Iryna Maiborodina ("Kolos" Kovalivka), Victoria Golovach ("Shakhtar" Donetsk), Anna Petryk, Nikol Kozlova, Veronika Andruhiv ("Vorskla" Poltava), Victoria Girin ("Ladomyr" Volodymyr), Dayana Semkiv ("Kryvbas" Kryvyi Rih), Natia Pantsulaya, Darya Apanashchenko (both - "Zhytlobud-1" Kharkiv), Khrystyna Pereviznyk ("Karagyumryuk", Turkey).

Forwards: Yana Kalinina, Roksolana Kravchuk (both from Vorskla Poltava), Olga Ovdiychuk (Fomget, Turkey), Inna Hlushchenko (Nice, France).

Women's League of Nations-2023/2024

Group B3

1 round

22.09.2023

Ukraine - Serbia

Greece — Poland

2 round

26.09.2023

Poland - Ukraine

Serbia — Greece

3 round

27.10.2023

Greece - Ukraine

Poland — Serbia

4 round

31.10.2023

Ukraine - Greece

Serbia — Poland

5 round

01.12.2023

Ukraine - Poland

Greece - Serbia

6 round

05.12.2023

Serbia - Ukraine

Poland — Greece

Women's League of Nations 2023/2024 draw results

League A

Group A1: England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Scotland.

Group A2: France, Norway, Austria, Portugal.

Group A3: Germany, Denmark, Iceland, Wales.

Group A4: Sweden, Spain, Italy, Switzerland.

League B.

Group B1: Ireland, Northern Ireland, Hungary, Albania.

Group B2: Finland, Romania, Slovakia, Croatia.

Group B3: Poland, Serbia, Ukraine, Greece.

Group B4: Czech Republic, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus.

League C.

Group C1: Malta, Moldova, Latvia, Andorra.

Group C2: Turkey, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Georgia.

Group C3: Azerbaijan, Montenegro, Cyprus, Faroe Islands.

Group C4: Israel, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Armenia.

Group C5: North Macedonia, Kosovo, Bulgaria.

How will the group matches be played?

All matches in the group stage will be played according to the usual format - home and away against each opponent in the group. Three points will be awarded for a win, one for a draw, and none for a loss.

Who is leaving? Who will play in the head-to-head matches?

League A

The top two teams in each group remain in League A for the 2025 Women's UEFA European Qualifiers.

The four third-placed teams play head-to-head matches against the second-placed national teams in League B groups. The winner of each tie will play in League A for European qualification; the losing teams will play in League B.

Fourth-placed teams are relegated to League B.

League B

The four group winners advance to League A.

The four second-placed teams play in tie-breaks against the third-placed national teams in League A. The winners will play in League A; the losing teams will play in League B.

The three best third-placed teams play head-to-head matches against the three best second-placed teams in League C. The winners play in League B within the European qualifiers; the losing teams will play in League C.

The lowest-ranked third-placed team and the four fourth-placed teams advance to League C.

League C

The five group winners advance to League B.

The three best second-placed teams play head-to-head matches with the three best third-placed teams in League B. The winners play in League B within the European qualifiers; the losing teams will play in League C.

Other teams remain in League C.

Class promotion/relegation matches

Pairs are formed by drawing lots, matches are played at home and away. The teams that took the third places in their groups are considered seeded and the return matches are held at home.

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