Preview: World cup debutantes Ukraine have barely existed as a country (Ukraine split from the former U.S.S.R. in 1991).  Make no mistake, however, Ukraine is no stranger to international soccer and is a soccer-crazed country that has plenty of history at the international and club levels.  Ukraine is coached by former European Footballer of the Year Oleg Blokhin, who has also participated in two World Cups for U.S.S.R., and played in over 100 international matches.  Blokhin is a living legend, and probably the the best soccer player who was ever born in the country.  The one and only reason for any doubt in that regard is Ukraine's current star striker, Andriy Shevchenko, European Footballer of the Year in 2004, and one of the best players in the world in anyone's book.

Led by a coach with plenty of experience and tremendous credibility among his countrymen, as well as a superstar who carry the team on his shoulders, Ukraine is ranked 12th and is poised for their chance at something special in 2006.  They handily won their World Cup qualifying group, which included Turkey and Denmark, along with Euro 2004 winners Greece, and shouldn't have a lot of trouble getting out of their first round group along with their main rival Spain.  The one question mark for the team is the knee injury Shevchenko suffered in early May while playing for his club team AC Milan, but he should be ready to go by beginning of the tournament in June.

Result: Ukraine fulfilled it's dream of a Cinderella run in the 2006 FIFA World Cup.  Many will say that the team benefited from a weak starting group, or that they drew the weakest group winner in Switzerland.  While that is probably true, the top eight finish still has to be viewed as impressive.

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