Sergei Baltacha hopes Ukraine's territorial gains can inspire the country's footballers ©Getty Images

Olympic bronze medallist Sergei Baltacha has predicted that Ukraine's recent territorial gains in its war against Russia will spur on the country's footballers prior to the UEFA Nations League fixture with Scotland.

Mariupol-born Baltacha was part of the Soviet Union's team that finished third at the Moscow 1980 Olympics football tournament, and amassed 45 appearances and two goals for the national side from 1980 to 1988.

Ukraine has retaken 8,000 square miles of land in decisive offensives this month with key supply hubs in the form of cities Izyum and Kupiansk being reclaimed in the process.

"All the information coming out of the Ukraine is suggesting that the war is going well for them," said Baltacha, as reported by The National.

"Their forces are reclaiming a lot of areas which were under Russian occupation.

"The news will have definitely given the players a lift.

"You can see the emotion for them when they play for Ukraine.

"They have a lot of family, a lot of friends, who have suffered and are suffering back in their country.

"It is difficult for the boys to handle this.

"Football is secondary for them.

Sergei Baltacha was part of the Soviet Union's bronze medal-winning team at the Moscow 1980 Olympic Games ©Getty Images
Sergei Baltacha was part of the Soviet Union's bronze medal-winning team at the Moscow 1980 Olympic Games ©Getty Images

"But playing well for the national team and giving people something to cheer is definitely a big motivation for them."

Baltacha, who was a finalist in the 1988 European Championship and played at the 1982 FIFA World Cup, believes that the Ukrainian players would play to their potential regardless of the situation at home.

"In Ukraine there is a saying don't talk, just do," continued Baltacha.

"That is what the President and the military are doing in the war.

"This is the mentality of the players as well.

"They do not say much, they just do their job properly."

Ukraine are scheduled to face Scotland on September 21 in Glasgow in their Group B1 fixture in the Nations League.

Oleksandr Petrakov's side sit top of the table with seven points from three matches, with Scotland trailing behind by a single point.

Following that, the Ukrainians are due to play Armenia on September 24 and Scotland again three days later.