• Nicole Kozlova almost led Ukraine to qualifying for women’s EURO
  • She hopes to do better in 2023 Women’s World Cup qualifiers
  • “We are not the best, but we fight until the end”, she announces

After Ukraine’s failure to qualify for the UEFA EURO Women’s UEFA EURO, Nicole Kozlova is bitter. In the play-off, Ukraine fell against Northern Ireland (4-1) and the dream of a second participation in the European meeting after 2009, has flown. But when one door closes, another opens. On April 30, the draw for the European qualifiers launched Ukraine on the road to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup ™.

“Sure, I’m disappointed, but there’s no point in whining once the chips are down. The World Cup qualifiers will start in the fall. It’s the start of a new cycle. think about progress and try to correct our mistakes “, she confides to FIFA.com. “There have been and now it is a question of rolling up our sleeves so as not to commit them again. We have to get to work to reach the next level. It is essential, if we want to be more competitive. . I feel a lot of frustration. I feel like I missed a golden opportunity and I have no idea when the next one will come. Now we have to forget all that, start over from there. forward and see what we can build together. “

In the globalist qualifiers, the Ukrainians will face Spain, Scotland, Hungary and the Faroe Islands. The Spaniards start with a head start, but for Kozlova, with the right frame of mind, Ukraine will have a chance. “You can’t approach the competition saying to yourself that you can’t do anything. On the contrary, you have to do everything to win, be opportunistic and, if another golden opportunity presents itself, be ready to seize it”, she announces.

Ukraine, which sit 31st in the FIFA / Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking, will not start favorites, but the team coached by Nataliia Zinchenko have their arguments. “Every time a match is on television, we watch it and analyze it together. We read a lot of books on this or that coach, this or that game system …”, assures the 21-year-old player. , passionate about numbers, studying computer modeling and data analysis at university. “All this passion is good to see. We may not be the best technically, but we fight until the end.”

Personal advance and national delay

On an individual level, Kozlova brings her energy and a certain experience. Born in Toronto, the striker plays in the United States, under the colors of Virginia Tech, where she receives advanced training. “The university teams are very physical. As soon as you join the group, the tests follow one another. All the preparation revolves around the speed of execution. You just have to look at the national team to realize it. The girls impose an all-terrain pressing for 90 minutes, that requires a certain level of endurance, “said Kozlova, who cites impeccable physical condition, maximum intensity and a lot of liveliness as her main assets.

International since 2019, Kozlova remains aware of the advantages offered by her personal situation, between the United States and Canada. In her country of origin, such conditions remain inaccessible, even if women’s football is moving in the right direction. “First of all, we try to make ourselves known. If the girls don’t play football, we cannot expand our talent pool,” she admits. “The number of female players who turn professional is still very low. Even when there is a fairly large base, the number of female players keeps decreasing as the level increases. In Ukraine, we need this base and, for the moment, we don’t really have it. But things are starting to change. The decision was taken recently to oblige all professional men’s teams to have a women’s section, “she concludes.

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