Ukraine striker Andriy Shevchenko has asked wanted national coach Oleg Blokhin to stay on despite his pledge to quit if Ukraine failed to make it into the Euro 2008 finals.
Shevchenko, speaking in the wake of Ukraine’s 3-1 defeat to Scotland, said the team’s coaches were not wholly to blame for Ukraine’s failure to qualify for next year’s finals.
“I would not like the coaching staff to be seen as the main guilty party,” the Chelsea striker told Sport Express newspaper.
“We got into the World Cup finals and did well and got off to a good start in the European qualifiers. Something happened in the last few months.
“Let’s make it clear that Blokhin is behind the brightest spots in the history of Ukrainian soccer, things never seen before. I would like him to stay on as national coach.”
Blokhin has coached the national team since 2003, but last week, in the run-up to the Scotland match, he said he would quit if the side did not make it to the finals. However, after Saturday’s defeat in Glasgow, a result which ended Ukraine’s chances of qualifying for next summer’s finals, he appeared to backtrack on his threat.
“I am not shirking responsibility for the outcome of today’s match or for the results of the qualifying matches as a whole,” Ukrainian media quoted him as saying. “But life goes on. We have to look forward and get ready for remaining matches.”