Ukraine will be playing their World Cup football matches in Hamburg, Leipzig and Berlin, and have chosen to have their team training base in Potsdam, which is located in the middle of these host cities.

Ukraine, who are making their first appearance in the World Cup finals, have been drawn in Group H along with Spain, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

Hartmut Pirl, the Director of the Seminaris Hotel where the team will be staying, is expecting a flood of guests from this. While visitors might not necessarily be booking rooms, he thinks they will at least be wanting to get a glimpse of the players, Zeenews reports.

"I think that as we are dealing with the footballer of the year, or with world class footballers such as Andriy Shevchenko, Andriy Voronin, but also the trainer Oleg Blokhin is world class, so we are expecting a lot of fans to be coming here," Hartmut Pirl told reporters last month.

In December 2004, Andriy Shevchenko beat off Deco, Ronaldhino and Thierry Henry to be named European Footballer of the Year. He is the third Ukrainian to win the award after Oleg Blockhin in 1975 and Igor Belanov in 1986 and he dedicated it to his fellow Ukrainians.

The staff at the Seminaris Hotel in Potsdam are studying the Ukrainian customs and language, so they will be prepard to cater for them during their stay.

"The room maid will have have to be able to say 'good morning' in Ukrainian, the waiters and waitresses have to be able to take orders in Ukrainian, the receptionists will have to be able to place telephone calls through to the Ukraine in Ukrainian, so these are all complexities which we have to sort out before it starts," Director Pirl said.

"We shall also be providing an intensive intercultural training, so that our staff know what the expectations and traditions of Ukrainians are, what are their table manners or everyday customs. We shall be looking at all of this in the next weeks," Pirl added.

The Ukrainian team themselves will also have a lot of work to do before June. Despite having Shevchenko, one of the best players in the world, Ukraine failed to qualify for any major championship before 2005, three times failing at the last stage in the playoffs.

They failed to get to the 1998 World Cup, losing to Croatia, Slovenia prevented them from going to Euro 2000, and Germany stopped them ahead of the 2002 World Cup.

After an unsuccesful Euro 2004, Ukraine appointed Oleg Blokhin as the national team's head coach, and went on to qualify for their first-ever FIFA World Cup, drawing 1:1 with Georgia.

Shevchenko has an excellent scoring record, managing a goal nearly every two games, so Hotel Director Pirl will be keeping his fingers crossed that he has not only world class players, but World Cup winners bringing fans to his hotel.

According to the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, Ukraine is in the race to be crowned Best Mover of the Year 2005.


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