Zorya Luhansk

The Lowdown: City's Next European Opponents, Zorya Luhansk

Leicester City's UEFA Europa League adventure continues with an away clash against Zorya Luhansk at Slavutych Arena on Thursday (5:55pm kick-off).
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Ahead of the game against the Ukrainian outfit, LCFC.com assesses Zorya's current squad, manager and recent history.

The squad

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Zorya Luhansk
Zorya Luhansk

Luhansk suffered a 3-0 defeat when they visited Leicester earlier this season.

Several new faces joined the club during the summer of 2020, with defenders Leovigildo and Agron Rufati recruited for undisclosed fees, alongside Denys Favorov and midfielder Serhiy Hryn, who joined on free transfers.

Ukrainian trio Yehor Nazaryna, Denys Yanakov and Oleksandr Hladkyy were also signed on permanent deals, while defender Max Grechkin and forward Allahyar Sayyadmanesh both joined on loan from Beitar Jerusalem and Fenerbahçe respectively.

Meanwhile, four Ukrainian midfielders left the club, with Yevhen Cheberko (LASK) and Bohdan Mykhaylychenko (Anderlecht) signing for other European clubs, while Maksym Kazakov was released and 35-year-old Mykyta Kamenyuka retired.

Elsewhere, Serbian forward Nemanja Ivanović signed for Zlatibor Čajetina and Ukrainian defenders Serhiy Mayboroda and Maksym Bilyi signed for Avanhard Kramatorsk and Rukh Lviv respectively.

Also departing the club on loan were goalkeeper Danylo Khmelovskyi and midfielder Volodymyr Bilotserkovets, as well as new signing Yanakov. 

The manager

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Viktor Skrypnyk
Viktor Skrypnyk

Before management, Viktor Skrypnyk was a defender who started his career with Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.

Appointed as head coach of FC Zorya Luhansk in June 2019, Viktor Skrypnyk is into his second full season in charge of Muzhyky (The Men), having guided the team to a third-place finish in the Ukrainian Premier League last term.

As a player, Skrypnyk was a defender who started his career with Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk; however in his three years there, he failed to make a competitive league appearance, instead making 46 appearances for the club’s reserve side in the Soviet Top League competition. His only senior competitive appearance for Dnipro came in the Soviet Cup.

In 1989, Skrypnyk signed for Metalurh Zaporizhya, which played in the second tier of Soviet football. It was there that the defender really started his professional career.

Come 1991, Metalurh Zaporizhya were playing in the Soviet Top League and Skrypnyk was able to make his debut in the top flight. He continued to play for the side following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, after which the club was admitted to the Ukrainian Top League. 

Following over 120 league appearances for Metalurh, Skrypnyk returned to his first club, Dnipro, in 1994, where he would spend the next two years. The same year he re-joined Dnipro, Skrypnyk made his senior debut for Ukraine.

In 1995/96, Dnipro coach Bernd Stange recommended Skrypnyk to Werder Bremen head coach Hans- Jürgen Dörner, with Viktor making the move to Germany at the end of that season. The move was to begin a 20-year association with Werder Bremen.

During the course of his time playing for Bremen, Skrypnyk won the DFB-Pokal Cup in 1999 and, in his final season, the league and cup double. After retiring from playing in 2004, Skrypnyk remained at Werder Bremen and commenced his coaching career, working with players in the club’s academy.

In June 2013, he was appointed head coach of Werder Bremen II, the club’s second team but, just over a year later, was elevated to the role of head coach of the first team, after his record of 31 wins, seven draws and just nine defeats during his time with the reserves.

After just under two years in charge of Bremen, in which he oversaw 70 games, Skrypnyk was dismissed from his role with the first team, but stayed on at the club as part of the coaching staff for a further two years before being appointed manager of Latvian side Riga.

Viktor’s spell with Riga only lasted seven months, taking four months out of the game before being appointed Yuriy Vernydub’s successor at FC Zorya Luhansk.

Form guide

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Vladyslav Kocherhin
Vladyslav Kocherhin

Zorya came from a goal down to draw 2-2 with Ukrainian champions Shahktar Donetsk in September.

Following Luhansk's defeat on Filbert Way in October, the Ukrainian outfit hit back with a 4-0 victory over Rukh Vynnyky, before falling 2-1 to SC Braga in the Europa League.

An away 1-1 draw at Inhulets' was then followed by a 4-1 reverse to AEK Athens in Europe, but Viktor Skrypnyk's men hit back by embarking on a three-game unbeaten run, including success on the continent.

Both sides suffered red cards in a 1-1 draw between Zorya and Vorskla, before an impressive 3-0 victory for The Men at AEK, in which Artem Hromov, Vladyslav Kabayev and Vladlen Yurchenko found the net.

They followed up that triumph in Greece, too, with a 3-0 success over Mynai at the Avanhard Stadium on Sunday, elevating them up to eighth in the early Ukrainian Premier League standings.

Previous encounters

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James Maddison
James Maddison

James Maddison opened his European account against the Ukrainian outfit in September.

The encounter between the two sides in October was their first meeting, as efforts from James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Kelechi Iheanacho wrapped up a 3-0 victory for the Foxes on Filbert Way.

Zorya are competing in the group stage of the Europa League for the third time and the first since 2017, after finishing third in the Ukrainian Premier League last season.

Based in the city of Luhansk in the east of Ukraine, the club are embarking on their seventh consecutive UEFA Europa League campaign, though they were knocked out in the qualification play-off stage during the last two seasons, losing 5-3 on aggregate to Spanish side Espanyol in 2019/20. 

They have faced the likes of Manchester United, Athletic Bilbao and Feyenoord in previous years. 

Trophy cabinet

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Zorya Luhansk
Zorya Luhansk

Zorya's last major honour came in 2006, winning the Ukrainian First League title.

Zorya won their maiden Soviet Top League title in 1972 after previously winning the Soviet First League in both 1962 and 1966.

By the mid 1980s, they were competing in the Soviet Second League and would claim the league title in 1986.

More recently, Zorya were champions of the Ukrainian Second League at the end of the 2002/03 campaign, before winning the Ukrainian First League three seasons later.

They have also claimed the Ukrainian SSR Cup on three occasions, in 1938, 1962 and 1986 to complete a league-cup double.

The stadium

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Slavutych Arena
Slavutych Arena

Zorya currently play their home games in Zaporizhia, at the home of Metalurh Zaporizhia.

The 12,000 capacity Slavutych Arena will play host to Leicester City on matchday five of the Europa League group stage.

Due to ongoing conflict in Luhansk, Zorya play their home games at the stadium, which is located in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine and also the home of Metalurh Zaporizhia

The stadium opened in 2006, replacing the previously existing Metalurh Stadium. It hosted the 2010 Ukrainian Super Cup final between Shakhtar Donetsk and Tavriya Simferopol and also staged the 2019 Ukrainian Cup Final between Shakhtar Donetsk and Inhulets Petrove.

Upcoming fixtures

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Zorya Luhansk
Zorya Luhansk

Braga are Zorya's next Europa League opponents and the Portuguese side will be the first to travel to Slavutych Arena.

Zorya host Dnipro-1 at Slavutych Arena on Sunday in their domestic league (3pm kick-off), before concluding their Group G campaign in the Europa League with an away clash at SC Braga on Thursday (8pm kick-off).

An away trip to Oleksandriya on 13 December then follows (5:30pm kick-off), before travelling to Desna in the fourth round of the Ukrainian Cup on 16 December (kick-off TBC).

All times GMT.

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