Scotland football legend Kenny Dalglish has asked Ukraine to focus on recovery instead of the 2022 World Cup.
Dalglish, who made his name with Liverpool as both player and manager, and starred in the Scottish Premier League, insists that Ukraine should not be placed under pressure to qualify for the World Cup.
Earlier, Ukraine midfielder Taras Stepanenko asked FIFA and UEFA to postpone the playoff for the second time as he believes that the June schedule is unrealistic due to the events which have escalated in his country.
The Ukraine Football Association have also constantly come out to reject “football charity”, insisting that they will be ready to face Scotland in June in their World Cup qualifier playoff. The winner of that tie will go on to face Wales, and the winner of that bracket will join England, Iran and USA in Group B.
It hasn’t stopped the calls, however, to Scotland and Wales, who have not been to the World Cup in more than five decades. All of these calls have come from all across the world, but Scotland fans will be pleased to hear Dalglish voice out what many of them would be thinking.
Dalglish suggests that if Ukraine doesn’t make it for the qualifiers due to an inability to be fully prepared to face Scotland, or get an automatic slot, that they get an automatic slot for the 2026 World Cup in USA, Canada and Mexico.
Dalglish believes it will be better for Scotland to face Wales and assure Ukraine of a spot in the 2026 showpiece, which will be expanded to accommodate 48 teams instead of the usual 32 teams.
“I don’t know what should be done, but you’ve got to have huge respect for the Ukrainian players and the football association,” Dalglish said. “It’s not their fault that they are in the position they are in.
“Some of the squad play elsewhere but they’ve still got families there that have been hugely affected by it. I think it’s unfair to put them under pressure in any way, shape or form. Maybe [give them] a wee olive branch and say, in the next World Cup you can go straight through, you don’t need to qualify.
“It would be a way of showing your respect for them and at the same time moving forward with this World Cup in Qatar. And people will say: how can they get that?
“Well, if you want to get your places bombed, your parents killed and your friends killed, that’s what you need to go through to get it. I just think it would be nice, if they want a solution, to give them that.”