Armenia boss Oleksandr Petrakov trying to erase memories of last Wales game
Armenia manager Oleksandr Petrakov said he did not want to remember the past year on his return to Wales, 12 months on from Ukraine’s World Cup play-off final defeat in Cardiff.
Ukrainian Petrakov was a devastated figure last June as Wales celebrated reaching the 2022 World Cup courtesy of Gareth Bale’s deflected free-kick.
The 65-year-old spoke about “Russian barbarians” and “Ukrainians defending their land” in addressing the conflict between the two nations as Ukraine’s failure to grace the world football stage in Qatar left him crushed.
Petrakov left his position as Ukraine boss in January and within two days was put in charge of Armenia’s attempt to reach their first major finals by qualifying for Euro 2024.
“I don’t want to remember the past year,” Petrakov said ahead of Armenia’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Wales. “I don’t want to speak about it.”
Asked a follow-up query about the emotions he felt about returning to the Cardiff City Stadium, Petrakov’s interpreter intervened and said he would be “grateful” if there were no questions about Ukraine.
Petrakov has presided over two games since his appointment, a 2-1 Euro qualifying defeat by Turkey and a 2-2 friendly draw with Cyprus. Both games were played in the Armenian capital Yerevan.
“Our objective is to try and qualify for Euro 2024,” said Petrakov. “You don’t play if you don’t have high aims and goals.
“We have strengths and we believe in our strengths. We are positive to play Wales.
“The only change now is that Gareth Bale is absent. I don’t see many big changes compared to the team of last year.
“But I know my players are ready. They are listening to music in the dressing room now, but they are feeling good and will bear the tension on Friday.”
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