Ukraine became the first team to be eliminated from Euro 2016 on Thursday, as coach Mikhail Fomenko delivered a damning assessment of his players’ lack of desire and mental readiness.
Goals from Gareth McAuley and Niall McGinn sealed a 2-0 win for Northern Ireland over Ukraine at Stade de Lyon.
Poland’s 0-0 draw with Germany in Paris then left Fomenko’s team bottom of Group C and without a point from two matches played, meaning they are unable to progress to the round of 16, despite the new expanded format of the competition affording more teams the opportunity to advance.
And the 67-year-old did not hold back after their latest reverse, questioning the squad’s mental readiness for a physically demanding encounter with Michael O’Neill’s determined group.
“The players were not united, they didn’t fulfil our requirements,” he told a post-match news conference.
“Especially the formation and how they carried out the set-pieces.
“As far as the style of play of our opponent is concerned, nothing surprised us. We expected this level of football,” he said of Northern Ireland’s disciplined, direct game.
“We understood they can score impressive goals from set-pieces, we were preparing for this kind of football. The major mistakes, we saw them today on the pitch. We weren’t prepared enough psychologically.
“If all the players fulfilled their requirement we could have won this game, but … we’re going to work on it so we’re prepared for the next game.”
Ukraine lost their opening game 1-0 to Poland in Nice and, despite finding themselves under pressure to respond, Fomenko felt his side did not approach the Northern Ireland game with the right attitude.
“Perhaps our players underestimated the opponent and underestimated the effort [that was required] to win,” he said.
“We allowed the opposing team to play its own football. That’s why we lost.”
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