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Ukraine Prepares for World Cup Qualifiers

Grant Wahl interviews the Guardian’s Nick Ames to discuss the Ukrainian Men’s National Soccer Team’s preparations for Wednesday’s World Cup playoff against Scotland.

As you can imagine, preparations have been difficult since Russia’s invasion in February. Ames has been following the Ukrainian team as they have prepared in Slovenia the past few weeks. Is soccer meaningful when one’s country is facing extermination? As Ames tells Wahl:

So it is important. And I think also it’s important to remember that what Russia is trying to do in Ukraine is erase Ukrainian culture, no more, no less, really. I think I said it in my piece from Slovenia. And I think as you and I both know, Grant, from our travel: What is an international football team, if not an expression, a representation of a culture, of a country’s hope, of a country’s ambition, of how a country expresses itself and everything around it? So I think that is all tied into what the feeling was in the camp.

If Ukraine can beat Scotland and then Wales, they will face the United States in the first game of the World Cup’s group stage in November.

I’m glad they will be able to try.

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