- Nicole Kozlova narrowly missed out on EURO qualification with Ukraine
- The workforce’s subsequent problem: reaching the subsequent FIFA Women’s World Cup
- “We may not be the most technically gifted team, but we’re fighters.”
“For certain I’m disillusioned, however I’m the sort of particular person participant who is aware of you’ll be able to’t change something as soon as it is occurred. We have World Cup qualifiers taking place this fall, so the focus is on restarting, enhancing and fixing our errors.
“Obviously there have been errors on our half that we have to put proper, and we have to work on how we will take our sport to the subsequent degree, how we will compete. You have to maneuver on nevertheless it’s exhausting for certain. Personally, it was additionally upsetting, because it seems like a as soon as-in-a-lifetime alternative, and you’re undecided when the subsequent one will come. Still, it’s a must to put it behind you and simply maintain transferring on and see what you are able to do subsequent.”
The phrases are these of Nicole Kozlova, who was reflecting on Ukraine’s agonising failure to achieve the UEFA Women’s EURO in an interview with FIFA.com. In their play-off final month, the jap Europeans misplaced 4-1 on mixture to Northern Ireland, ending their hopes of a second EURO look after their 2009 debut.
But, as the previous adage goes, when one door shuts, one other one opens. And simply final Friday, the European qualifying draw for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia/New Zealand 2023™ unfolded, putting Ukraine in Group B alongside Spain, Scotland, Hungary and the Faroe Islands.
“At first glance you think: wow, that’s a tough group,” Kozlova stated. “For instance, I’ve by no means performed in opposition to Spain or Hungary, though we have now confronted Scotland a couple of instances, so it’s a combination of new and difficult groups.
“But in soccer, anybody can win on their day. You see it extra and extra and in the males’s sport as effectively. The hole has narrowed, which proves that anyone can beat anyone.
“I think if we have the right mentality, set up well and everyone does all they can, then we have a chance. You can never say we don’t have a chance. We have to give everything and make the best out of it so that hopefully we’ll get another once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
In thirty first place on the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking, Ukraine might not be the favourites to win the group, however the 21-12 months-previous is banking on the collective power of a workforce famend for its ardour and preventing spirit below coach Nataliia Zinchenko.
“Anytime there’s a game on TV, we watch it together and learn more about the game,” stated Kozlova. “We all read books about this and that coach, their tactics and so on. I just love seeing that passion. We always put up a fight and, while we may not be the most technically gifted side, we really battle. That’s who we are and you kind of have to embrace that fact. But as long as we have that attitude, we’ll get the results.”
Kozlova brings distinctive expertise to the workforce, albeit extra in phrases of physicality than mentality. Toronto-born and raised, the striker at present performs for Virginia Tech in the USA and has benefitted from a selected kind of coaching there.
“Over here they’re very focused on the athletic side – especially the college teams,” she stated. “You are available in and it’s health take a look at after health take a look at. It’s actually based mostly on the tempo of the sport. Just have a look at the US girls’s nationwide workforce. They preserve a excessive press for the full 90 minutes, however that takes a particular degree of health.
“That’s what I carry after I be part of up for coaching camps – my greatest kind and situation in addition to an depth and tempo of play. Attitude-wise, it’s a sport of soccer and it’s sort of the identical in all places – the ardour and love for the sport, even when you would possibly have a look at the sport a bit in another way.
“But honestly, I don’t think that I bring anything that different. Everybody has their own skills, which is why it’s the most popular sport in the world. Everybody can play; indeed everybody does play, and differently.”
Kozlova, who made her worldwide debut in 2019, can also be conscious that she is benefiting from the alternatives provided to her by Canada and the USA. In Ukraine, these sorts of alternatives are nonetheless restricted for younger women, even when girls’s soccer is slowly transferring in the proper course.
“We’re just trying to grow its popularity,” she stated. “The base isn’t going to develop if you do not have loads of younger women taking part in. The quantity of women that keep on with sport is small – even right here in Canada. Among the women I performed with after I was 14, 15, some of them have left and perhaps 4 or 5 of us are nonetheless severe about the sport. Even with a giant pool of gamers, it’s getting smaller and smaller.
“In Ukraine you really need that base, but they don’t really have it at the moment. But that’s changing. They recently made it obligatory for professional men’s teams to have a women’s team as well, so it is slowly changing.”
That initiative will certainly pay dividends in the long run, one thing Kozlova additionally has one eye on together with her research, having majored in a computational modelling and knowledge evaluation, and minored in arithmetic.
“I’ve always been a kind of analyst,” she stated. “It’s at all times made sense to me and I usually joke about it on the pitch. If there’s a free-kick I’m like: I must hit from this angle for it to finish up in the nook. Of course, I’m simply kidding round and not really calculating it.
“For sure, though, I’ve always paid attention to numbers, even I haven’t really applied it to my game yet. I’d like to use my degree to become a football analyst, as I find analysing different tactics and things like percentage stats and shots on goal all very interesting.”
And who is aware of, maybe Kozlova will proceed to be concerned in Ukrainian girls’s soccer after she hangs up her boots and use her experience to assist additional its improvement.