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Mykhailychenko wants to end Ukraine's playoff jinx

UKRAINE coach Oleksiy Mykhailychenko is hoping the fourth time will be the charm when his team plays Greece in a World Cup playoff today.

Ukraine has lost its last three playoffs for major championships, but are confident of turning things around this time.

"I know we have failed three times, but I prefer not to look back but forward," Mykhailychenko said yesterday.

Ukraine finished second to England in Group 6, while Greece was the runner-up behind Switzerland in Group 2. The winner of the two-leg series advances to next year's tournament in South Africa, with the return match played in Donetsk on Wednesday.

Ukraine lost a playoff for the 1998 World Cup against Croatia, then fell at the same stage to Germany in 2002. They also lost a playoff against Slovenia for a spot at the 2000 European Championship.

"This is the most important game of my career," Mykhailychenko said. "I always worry, it's part of my job. The results will be very important for my country."

Ukraine is missing strikers Andriy Voronin and Serhiy Nazarenko, and will rely on Andriy Shevchenko for goals. Mykhailychenko is also concerned about 10 of players entering the game with a yellow card, meaning the can be suspended for the return leg if they pick up a second booking.

"We have talked about it already, they must avoid (yellow cards)," Mykhailychenko said. "They need to be disciplined."

Greece coach Otto Rehhagel is expected to give Sokratis Papastathopoulos the task of marking Shevchenko, with the German possibly opting for a five-man back line.


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