Coach Oleg Blokhin's side exited the tournament after a 3-0 defeat
by Italy on Friday but they had already surpassed their aim of
qualifying from Group H and return home satisfied.
Among the dark horses after an impressive qualifying campaign in
which they became the first European team to clinch a place at the
finals, Ukraine never really sparkled on the pitch but they
nevertheless managed to grind out results.
"We are completely happy with our performance," said Blokhin. "We
did very well for the first time.
"We made it to last 16, to the quarter finals. As a coach I'm really
happy with their performance."
Ukraine's campaign got off to a bad start with a 4-0 thrashing by
Spain but they bounced back to beat Saudi Arabia by the same score and
reached the second round after a pedestrian 1-0 win over Tunisia in
their final group game.
They then beat Switzerland on penalties in the second round after a tedious scoreless draw to reach the quarter-finals.
Blokhin repeatedly faced questions from reporters asking why the
team's football was so dull, lacking any flair in midfield and usually
focusing on a rather defensive approach.
He said he liked their style and pointed to the results.
They probably showed some of their best moves during a 15-minute
spell against Italy when they were only 1-0 down, and if one of the two
shots that hit the woodwork had found the net it could have been a
different game altogether.
In the end Ukraine's main problem was a lack of quality and depth in
the squad. Although boasting one of the world's best strikers in Andriy
Shevchenko, they lacked the playmakers to feed him decent passes and he
never really showed his best form.
Shevchenko agreed that there had been some class missing from the
side but said he was proud to be part of it.
"I'm so happy to play with these lads in this team," the striker
said. "Ukraine gave a good account of themselves at the World Cup."
Now they have made their mark on the world stage, the Ukrainians
vowed that they would be back again.