Ukraine-US soccer friendly will go on — in Cyprus

The Ukrainian soccer team warms up before a practice session at Ayia Napa in Cyprus Tuesday.
Petros Karadjias/Associated Press
The Ukrainian soccer team warms up before a practice session at Ayia Napa in Cyprus Tuesday.

AYIA NAPA, Cyprus — With the country in turmoil, Ukraine’s national soccer team says it is a symbol of the country’s unity.

The Ukrainians are scheduled to face the United States in an exhibition game Wednesday night in Cyprus, a match moved from Kharkiv, Ukraine, to Larnaca, Cyprus, for security reasons.

‘‘The national team is a symbol of unity because players come from all over Ukraine,’’ captain Anatoliy Tymoshchuk said Tuesday on a wind-swept practice field behind the team’s hotel. ‘‘We’re all one big family. We’re all united.’’


Tymoshchuk said political troubles at home do weigh on players’ minds.

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‘‘It’s a dangerous situation,’’ he said. ‘‘We have our families. We worry, but we hope that we can keep the peace in Ukraine as quickly as possible.’’

Team spokesman Alexander Glyvynskyy said Wednesday’s match is dedicated to the people of Ukraine under the slogan ‘‘Peace for Ukraine.’’

‘‘We are not ready for war,’’ Glyvynskyy said. ‘‘We hope that we can be good neighbors [with Russia] in the future.’’

Despite threats to cancel the match, Football Federation of Ukraine President Anatoliy Konkov said Tuesday the game will go ahead.


‘‘[We] reached a consensus to play the USA, after all,’’ Konkov said in a statement that praised the American team. ‘‘[They] stood behind us to protect the national interests and territorial integrity of Ukraine.’’

The match at Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium is among five remaining warmups for the United States ahead of this year’s World Cup. For Ukraine, a 2006 World Cup quarterfinalist and the highest-ranking nation that failed to qualify for the tournament in Brazil, it will serve as preparation for 2016 European Championship qualifying.

Ukraine coach Mykhailo Fomenko said he expects Wednesday’s game to be similar in style to a Premier League match .

Glyvynskyy said he expects the Americans to play an attacking game. Ukraine is injury-free and has all its best players available.