Ukraine's Blokhin Wants More Nationals In Club Sides

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine national coach Oleg Blokhin said on Friday that reducing the number of foreigners playing for the country's club sides was critical to the future development of his squad.

Oleg Blokhin

"I have repeatedly spoken in favour of a serious review of this issue. It is not right when on the field the majority of players are foreigners with more capable Ukrainians sitting on the bench," Blokhin told a news conference.

"I do not want to interfere in coaches' affairs. I can only ask them to change the situation."

Blokhin, who led Ukraine to their first World Cup in June, said national players Olexiy Belik and Andriy Vorobei were repeatedly being kept out of the line-up at Shakhtar Donetsk with the same applying to Andriy Nesmachny at Dynamo Kiev.

"Most of our players are reaching 30 or in their 30s, with fewer and fewer from the new generation," he said.

"And the main reason for this is the high numbers of foreigners in our championship. I believe that we must toughen our stand on this issue."

Blokhin also said a joint bid by Ukraine and Poland to stage the 2012 European Championship depended on urgent action over the construction of a shopping centre by Kiev's Olympic stadium.

Soccer officials have threatened to withdraw permission to stage international matches there because of the complex, citing concerns over crowd control.

"I believe Ukraine has good chances here, no worse than any of its rivals," Blokhin said.

"The most sensitive issue is the construction by the stadium. If it remains as is and no measures are taken then our chances of course fade sharply. We must resolve this urgently."

His comments on the joint bid followed a visit to Kiev this week by UEFA experts assessing security issues. UEFA has put off announcing a winner from next month until April 2007.

Also in the running are Italy, beset by a match-fixing scandal, and a joint bid by Croatia and Hungary, which has been hit by mass political demonstrations.

Source: Reuters