Last week was the first litmus test of the season for notorious the European competition hangover. It turns out that all three European representatives of the UPL, must have swallowed their Berocca and two litres of water ahead of their weekend fixtures. No hiccups occurred as Shakhtar and Dynamo Kyiv won comfortably and Vorskla Poltava secured three points against the formidable Zorya Luhansk. Granted a last minute own goal secured the Poltava side the three points, but they won’t be too bothered about the process. 
The Lviv derby also occurred last time out but ended in rather subdued fashion, as neither side was able to take a hold of the game and they drew 1-1. Oleksandriya continued to slip away from the top as they dropped down into third with a second successive loss and Arsenal Kyiv were left manager-less as Ravanelli stepped away after his side’s 3-1 loss to Olimpik. Furthermore, Dynamo and Mariupol, finally played their postponed fixture from earlier in the campaign and the Kyiv side comfortably took a 2-0 win back to the capital. They now remain 4 points off the Miners who are in top spot, with all games in hand having been played.
The Ukrainian cup also happened in midweek, with the lower ranked UPL sides taking part. 3rd tier FC Kalush, FC Minaj and Cherksashchyna all progressed through as the lowest ranked sides left in the competition. Notably Cherkashchyna knocked out Arsenal Kyiv to pile more misery on the club currently bottom of the UPL. Apart from them and Oleksandriya who lost to Chornomorets, the UPL have 10 sides going into the round of 16. That’s the magic of the cup!
Andrew Todos of Zorya Londonsk Weekly will be making predictions for every UPL game this season, against a variety of guests. 
Our tenth guests of the 2018 – 19 season are British Ukrainian folk punk rock band, Cov Kozaks. The band is made up of four lads from Coventry;  Alex Kosmirak, Danylo Barskyj, Zenon Dzula and Andriy Buniak; all Sky Blue through and through. Other members are Andy Maslanij from Wolves and Stef Fedeczko from Ashton. 
Cov Kozaks started out as just a group of musicians playing for their local Ukrainian dance group. The group shared a love for Ukrainian songs and music, but also the modern music coming from Ukraine. The band explained “We thought we would have a go at doing things a bit more seriously which ended up where we are today!” 
When asked to categorize their musical style, they responded ‘Our style is probably best described as British-Ukrainian-Folk-Rock-Punk-Funk… make of that what you will! Basically traditional Ukrainian songs, in a contemporary style.’ 
With their latest album ‘Who Else But An Idiot Would Want To LIVE’ and their 2017 release; Stand Aside Mykola showcasing their genre defying groove, we wanted to know whether they had any personal favourites that they were particularly proud of or just loved to perform. They responded ‘Aside from Ukrainian music we all have rather difference tastes in music and that is reflected in the styles of the songs, which vary from each track. We would probably struggle to pick a favourite song from the set, but “тиж – taranta” has been with us from the start and always gets the crowd going. You could probably describe this as our signature tune.’  
Asked to expand a little on what their latest album is about, the Cov Kozaks’ revealed, ‘The Live album is taken from a gig we did in Manchester last year, it’s a pretty cool snap-shot of what we are about, and gives you an idea of our style and energy. We hope to do a proper studio album at some point in the future and got some ideas for that in the pipeline.’ Looking forward to that!
Some pics from the Leicester gig
The Cov Kozaks’ are currently on tour at the moment. ‘We kicked off a mini tour to promote the album in Leicester last weekend and it went down a storm; we are still recovering from it now!’  Next up for the Cov Kozaks is London on 27 October at the Imperia Concert Hall, followed by Hospoda Live II at Tarasivka on 3 November. They also hope to add a few pop-up sets here and there to see the year out!
Aside from future dates, Cov Kozaks’ have supported a few big names in the past and even performed in Pravda Brewery in Lviv. We wanted to find out what their highlights have been since forming the band. 
Cov Kozaks after their Pravda Brewery gig
They told us ‘We’ve had a pretty crazy run considering we haven’t really played for much more than two years. A highlight has to be sharing the stage with Kozak System which was obviously awesome, and having the opportunity to play in Ukraine in Lviv, and to see our music being really well received out there will certainly take some beating. It will be interesting to see what the future brings!’

Moving on from music we wanted to find out more about the band’s links too football. Who did they all support and what were their current club situations?
‘We’re all Coventry City fans since birth, and can just about remember the glory years in the Premier League, and experienced the rollercoaster ride since then. We’ve had two visits to Wembley in last two years (except for Alex who decided that a trip to Disney Land was more appealing) winning both times, which in our recent history is massive for us. But having been promoted up to League 1, we’re currently a bit inconsistent, and taking some time to settle back into a higher division, but hopefully if all the signings we’ve made this season start to click it should be okay.’
As for the band’s following of Ukrainian teams, they revealed that they support any of the sides playing in Europe, although Andriy has a greater allegiance to Karpaty Lviv, whilst Alex’s is towards Dynamo Kyiv.
We also asked the lads whether they have been able to keep up with much of the UPL, Ukraine National Team or European matches featuring Ukrainian clubs so far this season and whether any teams, particular performances or players particularly stood out for any of them.
Zenon wears his Ukraine kit everywhere, even on stage
Zenon Dzula told us, “After playing like Messi at my Sunday league fixture, I got home watched Cov vs Oxford on TV and then caught the Ukraine vs Slovenia game straight after. I watched the Vorskla game on TV, thought they were punching above their weight and put a decent performance in!”
Alex Kosmirak said “I think Zbirna have so far had a great start in the Nations League! The game against Czech Republic saw a good performance from Zbirna, with a great performance from the controversial call-up of Marlos and super-sub Zinchenko. I think as we progress with this season, with players like Yarmolenko and Konoplyanka becoming match fit again, Zbirna will do quite well. However, I wouldn’t mind seeing Shevchenko mixing it up between the goal posts and playing Andriy Lunin instead of the slightly unpredictable Pyatov.” We couldn’t agree more with that last bit!

To end our interview with the band, we couldn’t miss out on finding out about the guys’ all-time top Ukrainian football moments. Here’s a selection of their responses:
DB: Being in Germany during the 2006 WC Finals supporting Ukraine (even if we were in the wrong city). 
ZD: Torn between seeing Shevchenko score two goals at the opening game of Euro 2012 in Kyiv and watching Ukraine beat Slovenia away from home to qualify for the Euro 2016 Finals, sealed by a last minute Yarmolenko goal. 
AB: I’ve been lucky enough to experience Zbirna’s time in the World Cup as well as both Euros. France was a wash out, but Poland/Ukraine was something that will really take some beating, maybe not so much for the football, but just being out there during that time was amazing. Other than that, a particular favourite was meeting Tolyk in Andorra and being part of a tiny crowd was awesome, and my favourite game was probably a qualifier against Croatia in Zagreb where we managed to draw level after being 2:0 down, with Sheva scoring an amazing header from a move he started in his own box! 


A correct result (WIN / DRAW/ DEFEAT) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns an extra 40 points.


Karpaty Lviv – Shakhtar Donetsk 
Todos’ prediction:This week’s Friday fixture looks exciting on paper. Karpaty have already seen off Dynamo this season, can they claim another top two scalp? It will all depend on what kind of side shows up, as since that Dynamo win, Karpaty have been relatively woeful. Shakhtar in reality are just a class apart at the moment and will probably comfortably see of the Lviv side. 0-2
Cov Kozaks’ prediction: ‘Slava Brazil but Karpaty are at home so they will grab a goal.’ 1-3
RESULT: 1-6: SHVED (90+2′) / RAKITSKIY (13′), FERNANDO (26′) , MORAES (29′) , MARLOS (35′) , MARLOS (45+1′) , MATVIENKO (79′)


Olimpik Donetsk v Oleksandriya 
Todos’ prediction: Olimpik were impressive last matchday but it should be taken into account that they were playing rock bottom Arsenal. Oleksandriya have lost their past two games and will want to rectify this significant loss of form. Could easily end goalless but Oleksandriya really need a win so will just edge it. 0-1
Cov Kozaks’ prediction: The Coventry lads have gone for the notorious score draw score line that has occurred so many times so far this season. 2-2
RESULT: 2-3: KOLTSOV (11′) , POLITYLO (29′) / SHASTAL (25′) , BANADA (73′) , HRYTSUK (87′ PEN)

Desna Chernihiv v Vorskla Poltava
Todos’ prediction: Vorskla have a big game coming up in midweek against Sporting Lisbon and will permissibly be focusing on that. However, they will be confident that they can take all three points on the road in this fixture as they are in great form in the league. They still do lack a consistent outlet for goals so it won’t be a high scoring fixture. 0-1
Cov Kozaks’ prediction: Vorskla will get another win against out of form Desna. 1-2
RESULT: 0-2: KULACH (4′) , SHARPAR (62′)

Chornomorets Odesa v Mariupol
Todos’ prediction: It’s the battle of the seas! The Black Sea coast side host the Azov seagulls. Mariupol have been unpredictable of late but I feel the home advantage will see current overachievers Chornomorets to a narrow win. 2-1
Cov Kozaks’ prediction: Just the one goal will separate the two coastal sides. 1-0
RESULT: 0-1: VAKULA (69′)

Zorya Luhansk v FC Lviv
Todos’ prediction: Zorya succumbed to a cruel last minute own goal last weekend and will be desperate to get a win on the board. They face an FC Lviv side that are more than beatable. Zorya wont be able to keep the likes of Duarte out though. 3-1
Cov Kozaks’ prediction: A certified rout for Zorya Luhansk. 3-0

Arsenal Kyiv – Dynamo Kyiv
Todos’ prediction: The first Kyiv derby since Arsenal’s return to the top tier. It’s also their first league game since Fabrizio Ravanelli resigned last week. Dynamo have recently picked up some form and will be buoyed to solidify the statement that there’s only one true club in Kyiv. 0-4
Cov Kozaks’ prediction: The lads think Dynamo will take this tie comfortably. 0-3
RESULT: 0-1: DUELUND (35′)

Total scores after week 9
Todos v Guests

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