- Associated Press - Monday, June 20, 2016

MARSEILLE, France (AP) - Ukraine coach Mykhailo Fomenko on Monday blamed the “very hard situation” at home for his team’s group-stage exit from the European Championship.

Four years ago, as a co-host, Ukraine started Euro 2012 with a bang, beating Sweden in its first game. At Euro 2016, it is going out with a whimper, winless and goalless before its last Group C game on Tuesday against Poland, with nothing but pride to play for.

Between the two tournaments, Ukraine has been shaken by Russia’s annexation of the Crimea, political turmoil and fighting with separatists in the eastern part of the country that has killed more than 9,300 people.

“Football, of course, is influenced by this situation,” Fomenko said. It caused “a chain reaction” and impacted Ukraine’s domestic leagues, which “went down.”

“The consequences of this chain reaction are here. We could not fulfill our task and our objective to go through the group and to get out of the group,” he added, speaking through a translator. “We say sorry to our supporters for this.”

Two of the top four teams in the Ukraine league last season have been forced out of their home cities by the conflict. They include Shakhtar in Donetsk. Donetsk was a vibrant Euro 2012 host city. But its once-glittering Donbass Arena has suffered shell damage and been used as a base for humanitarian aid distribution efforts.

Shahktar uprooted to Lviv, where it shares the city’s Arena Lviv, a Euro 2012 stadium, with local team Karpaty Lviv.

At Euro 2012, Ukraine followed up its 2-1 victory against Sweden with losses to France and England and didn’t advance to the knockout round.

At Euro 2016, Ukraine lost 2-0 to Germany its opening Group C match and 2-0 to European Championship first-timer Northern Ireland.

Its final opponent, Poland, was Ukraine’s co-host of Euro 2012.

Poland and Germany both have four points at the top of Group C.

A draw against Ukraine at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille will guarantee Poland a place in the knockout round.

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