The World Cup newcomers made the worst possible start to their campaign in Leipzig where they were slaughtered 4-0 by one of most impressive sides so far in the tournament, Spain.
After breezing through a tricky qualifying group including Turkey, Denmark and Euro 2004 champions Greece, Ukraine was pinned as a possible dark horse in the 2006 World Cup. But the 4-0 fiasco left them in desperate pursuit for a win to stay longer in the tournament.
Hope remains for Oleg Blokhin's men. They will feel that if they can get the better of Saudi Arabia, and Spain perform just as impressively against Tunisia, then they could yet go into the third round of matches well-placed to progress.
"We should be able to pick ourselves up and turn things around in the next match," said.Ukraine midfielder Serhiy Rebrov.
If world cup experience alone was the measure of a team's pedigree, then Ukraine would be clearly at a disadvantage against Saudi Arabia, a side playing on the world stage for the fourth time.
Right now, the disadvantage stands at one point, however, after both teams made a lackluster start in Group H.
Coasting towards victory against Tunisia, Saudi Arabia allowed themselves to be pegged back and had to settle for a point.
If that constituted a minor disappointment, Ukraine's setback was significantly larger- besides a disappointing debut, all-time international scorer Andriy Shevchenko, former European Footballer of the Year, seemed like a shadow of his usual self given his lack of match fitness after a month out with a knee injury.
Saudi coach Marcos Paqueta said he was optimistic about his team's chance of reaching the knockout round after their 2-2 draw against Tunisia in their opening match.
"I won't be making any changes for our next match against Ukraine. Ukraine dropped three points and probably suffered a blow to their morale. I hope we can take advantage of that," he said.
While Saudi Arabians are at full strength as they prepare for their second group match, another headache for Ukraine's coach Oleg Blokhin will be the absence of their key defender Vladislav Vashchuk, who received the first straight red card of the tournament in the Spain match.
However, Ukraine could rely on their physical strength to make trouble for Saudi, especially considering the demanding nature of the world cup.
Ukrainians are neat and quick in attacking, which will prove to be a real challenge for the slow-paced Saudi defense.
The forecasted cooler weather in Hamburg, which will see temperatures around 17 Celsius, will also work against Saudi Arabians with temperatures back in Saudi Arabia now well above 40C.
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