Ukrainian side Dynamo Kyiv are forced to play all of their European matches at home because of the war in their country – and the burden of constant travel and the absence of their fans is taking its toll.
After two Europa League Group B matches, Ukraine’s most successful club are currently in last place without a single point.
But Dynamo raised eyebrows a week later when they lost to smaller opponents AEK Larnaca of Cyprus in a game played in Poland.
“It’s physically difficult, because we are constantly traveling, by bus, then by plane. Besides, we always have to go back to Ukraine to play the championship here,” Oleksandr Karavayev, a midfielder from the club, told AFP. 30 year old dynamo. the team’s training base in Vynnyky near Lviv in western Ukraine.
Last weekend, after training there, the team had to take a long bus trip to the neighboring region of Zakarpattia for a national game against local team Mynai on Sunday.
These long journeys have become an exhausting routine for Dynamo since the airspace above the country was closed following the Russian invasion in February.
“We travel a lot more now and it’s a lot more exhausting. We’re not based in one place, but constantly on the move,” fellow player Vladyslav Kabayev told AFP.
Dynamo players complain of having little support in Poland, although they admit the situation is once again exacerbated by the war.
“We understand that the current situation is such that many people are not ready to play football,” Karavayev said. “But we have to play if we have the chance.”
“We thank the fans for coming, but it would be much better and more enjoyable to play in Kyiv,” he added.
“It’s psychologically difficult. Our families aren’t there. We spend very little time together,” 27-year-old midfielder Kabayev said.
But Dynamo, who were seen as pre-season favorites to win the Ukrainian Premier League, are now in ninth place with just six points after four matches.
“We are playing and showing that we are a Ukrainian club and we are strong and nothing will break us,” Karavayev said.
Dynamo have had a bit more time to prepare as club football has given way to national team matches over the past two weeks.