Ukrainians asked to dial pressure down

Ukrainian's national soccer team player Anatoliy Tymoschuk controls the ball during a training...

Ukrainian's national soccer team player Anatoliy Tymoschuk controls the ball during a training session during the Euro 2012 at the Olympic stadium in Kiev June 10, 2012. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk

Mike Zeisberger, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:22 PM ET

KHARKIV, Ukraine - More than 2,000 Swedish fans arriving to camp on a Kiev island billed by local contractors as "Camp Sweden" were greeted by no showers and very few toilets over the weekend, commodities that officals had promised would be finished in time for Euro 2012.

You can bet their heroes on the Swedish national team had no such issues in the Ukraine's largest city, which will play host to the highly anticipated game between the host Ukrainians and the Tre Kroners Monday.

While the hordes of yellow-clad Swedish spectators watched workers attempt to level out landfill areas on Swedish Island in order to accommodate the masses, their team prepared to face a Ukrainian side that is carrying the hopes of this entire country on its collective shoulders.

Optimism for the Ukrainian team has rocketed so much in these parts, manager Oleg Blokhin said the pressure on his squad was "like a tornado that could throw us in an unknown direction.

"The expectations are a lot higher, both for the fans and for the players," he said. "This doesn't help the team or the fans."

As a result, he asked the Ukrainian backers to do a reality check.

"We need to look at things realistically and tell the fans that we are not in the best situation," he said. "I know this team will fight, that it will try, but I really cannot predict how it will turn out."

When it comes to the FIFA world rankings, the Swedes, 18th overall, are in a different class than the 52nd-ranked Ukraines. But the emotions in the stands Monday definitely could be an equalizing factor for the home side.

Of course, by the time kickoff comes around, the Swedes will have their fair share of fans in the house. More than 5,000 Swedish supporters are expected to be in the stadium.

Hopefully, there will finally be an adequate amount of toilets at Camp Sweden by then.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/zeisberger


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