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Greece bar the way

Tymoshchuk chases World Cup berth

Anatoliy Tymoshchuk's previous experience of play-offs was not especially happy. Eight years ago, in November 2001, he represented his country in the final eliminator for a World Cup finals. Ukraine faced Germany back then, with the first leg ending 1-1, before the Germans finished the job with a 4-1 win in the return, sending them to the finals in Korea and Japan. Tymoshchuk and the Ukraine fell at the final hurdle.

"We spurned a huge chance of making it to a World Cup on that occasion, but they were very strong opponents and ended up contesting the World Cup Final against Brazil," the FCB midfielder recalled for FIFA.com. The 30-year-old is now in play-off action again when Ukraine face Greece on Saturday in Athens and on Wednesday in Donezk, with the aggregate winner going to South Africa next summer.

Fired up and willing

"I'm expecting two action-packed, hard-fought matches against Greece. All eight teams [in the play-offs] are determined to go to South Africa and they'll fight for that to the very end," Ukraine vice-captain Tymoshchuk reckoned. "Greece have loads of experience. Six or seven of their squad won the EURO back then, and they still have the same coach."