Zinchenko: Ukraine dream 'to stop this war' (2:04)

Oleksandr Zinchenko broke into tears as he spoke of his desire to see peace in his homeland. There is a time limit.

5:11 PM ET

Oleksandr was trying to keep his emotions in check, but when he tried to talk about the importance of the World Cup play-off against Scotland in Glasgow, he was overwhelmed. His lip began to swell and he began to cry.

It will be 99 days since Russia invaded their country and started a war that continues to rage, with towns and cities in the east of Europe still under siege. Football matters, and qualification for the World Cup is even more important, but for the man, his tears delivered perspective.

I have spoken to people from all over the world and they all want to stop the war. We want to go to the World Cup to give these incredible emotions to Ukrainians, because they deserve it so much.

This is a game of unimaginable proportions for both Scotland and Ukraine. Considering the situation, it's remarkable that 15 of the squad that played in the last competitive fixture against Bosnia will play for teams in the Ukrainian premier league. The players of Oleksandr Petrokov will be under a lot of pressure. For Scotland, a team that has not qualified for a World Cup in over a decade, the dream of ending their wait puts them in an impossible situation. The Tartan Army is going to learn the words of the national anthem of Ukraine so they can sing it before the game.

In response to the Scots singing the Ukrainian anthem, Zinchenko said, "I take this very well." This is amazing.

Scotland captain Andy Robertson said that everyone in the world wants Ukraine to win.

We will be so receptive of Ukraine before and after the game, but we have to be ready to fight for our dreams as well.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. The news of events in their own towns and cities has made it difficult for players like Vitaliy Mykolenko, who plays forEverton, to continue to play outside of their homeland. Many other people have had to stay in Ukraine and fight or protect their families. Taras Stepanenko and his family were forced to move to a basement shelter in Kyiv.

Bushchan was photographed in an underground station taking cover with fellow citizens. The captain of the team slept with his children in his car in an underground car park while his pregnant wife slept on the floor.

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There will be many stories of horror, terror and hardship that will never be told by this group of Ukraine players, but they see this game as their chance to do something and make a difference.

Zinchenko openly discussed the pain and pride of watching events back in Ukraine, adding that qualifying for the World Cup could be 'a moment of hope' for his country. Alan Harvey/SNS Group via Getty Images

Stepanenko said earlier this month that it is more than a football game. For the soldiers, it is a moment of hope.

Just as our soldiers are defending our country, we will give our all on the soccer field, said Oleksandr Karavayev, the player from the besieged southern city of Kherson. That is the best thing we can do.

Oleksandr Zinchenko in tears as he describes the emotion of playing for Ukraine against Scotland tomorrow...

— Mark Ogden (@MarkOgden_) May 31, 2022

The league was declared over at the end of April, and no games have been played since December. The bus journey from Ukraine to the training complex in the Slovenian Alps took 37 hours.

Since then, the group have trained twice a day to be fit for the Scotland game, with the players based in European leagues joining the squad as soon as their club commitments would allow. The preparation period for the squad has not been ideal, but there are no complaints about the football.

We are trying to do our best, despite all of the emotion and difficulties we have had to endure.

Throughout the war in Ukraine, a prominent figure has been trying to ensure that the story of his country remains in the forefront of people's consciousness. It has been a difficult and traumatic time for the 25-year-old who, prior to the invasion, was a quiet, unheralded member of the team.

Despite being torn initially by being unable to defend his country by taking up arms, he has since found his voice and is determined to make his own crucial contribution.

Ukraine's national team has been training for months while games at home were suspended, with just three recent warm-up games against club teams to prepare for this week's World Cup qualifier. Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images

He said that he would have held the gun, the weapon, if he had been there.

The whole world needs to know the truth. My goal is that. I agree with him. The answer will be the same for all Ukrainians. You can't describe the feelings unless you are in this position. I can't even describe what's happening in our country. This is the reason we need to stop this aggression. It's why we need to win.

Ukraine is a country of freedom and will never give up. A lot of countries don't understand, but tomorrow it could be you. We need to be united and beat the Russians.

Many people back home may not get to see how the game plays out in Glasgow because of the World Cup qualification. We can speak a lot, but we also do it on the pitch to make them happy and proud.

Wales will face off against Ukraine in Wales on Sunday for a place at the tournament. Scotland will also get that prize.

Being able to play this game is a victory for Ukraine, but they want more than just symbolism. They want to win.

Our motivation is 100% to win because everyone knows what is happening in Ukraine.

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