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Kazakhstan Hands Wooden Spoon to Latvia

13 Oct

Kazakhstan pulled off a sensational victory in Riga last night to condemn Latvia to last place in their UEFA 2016  European Championship qualifying group.

Islambek Kuat’s 65th-minute goal was enough to see off the Latvians and ensure that Kazakhstan edged their former Soviet Union rivals on goal difference in Group A. The win was Kazakhstan’s first in this round of qualification matches and means it avoided the wooden spoon which is now in Latvia’s hands.

The Czech Republic headed the group followed by Iceland. Turkey also qualified for the finals in France next summer as the best third-placed  team. The Netherlands could only finish fourth in the group and will not be going to the finals.

The win comes at a time when Kazakhstan’s all-powerful Nazarbayev clan are sniffing around the national football federation. President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s grandson, Aisultan Nazarbayev, made his case for the top job in football in Kazakhstan in an interview with to Sports.kz last week citing his extensive soccer experience.

Aisultan Nazarbayev, the son of the president’s eldest daughter Dariga Nazarbayeva and Rakhat Aliyev, who committed suicide  in an Austrian prison cell earlier this year while on remand facing murder and kidnapping charges.  Aliyev was a former head of Kazakhstan’s football federation so Aisultan Nazarbayev would be following in his father’s footsteps if he gets the nod for the job.

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Kazakhstan: Kairat Face Troublesome Trip to Scotland in Europa League Draw

24 Jun

Almaty’s FC Kairat could face a gruelling 11,000 km roundtrip to Scotland after the draw was made for the Europa League qualifiers on 22 June.

If Kairat can overcome Serbia’s Red Star Belgrade over two legs, then a trip to the land of whisky and deep-fried Mars bars might be on the cards if St Johnstone can beat Armenia’s Aleshkert FC.

Kairat will be following in the footsteps of Shakhter Karagandy who made the trip to Scotland in 2013 to play Glasgow’s Celtic, only to lose 3-0. The result meant the miners lost 3-2 on aggregate. The defeat was blamed on UEFA’s ban on pre-match sheep sacrificing. Shakhter had slaughtered a shaggy black ram ahead of the first leg in Astana.

Almaty taxi driver and Kairat supporter, Samat, was confused when asked by kazaxia about the potential trip to Scotland. “Where’s that then?” he asked. “I’ve heard of England and Holland but what’s this Scotland?”

Many in Kazakhstan confuse what they refer to as the ‘lands’ – England, Holland, Scotland, Ireland, Finland, Poland, Iceland, Switzerland, Swaziland, Thailand and Greenland.

How’s the Psychic Saiga Shaping Up?

23 Jun

Psychic Saiga Predicts World Cup Winner

12 Jun

A  saiga with psychic powers, located in a secret location somewhere on the steppe in Kazakhstan is predicting a victory for Argentina in the 2014 World Cup Final in Brazil.

Eingebaute Klimaanlage. Die bucklige Nase hilft den Saiga-Antilopen, Atemluft anzuwärmen und abzukühlen. So kommt sie im extremen Wetter der Steppe zurecht. Foto: dpa

A shaman contacted kazaxia  about the psychic saiga – it points a horn at one of two lamb bones bearing an etching of the national flags of the competing teams to select the winner. The unnamed saiga predicts that Argentina will triumph over England in the final. Brazil and Germany will be the unlucky losing semi-finalists, with the Germans grabbing third place on penalties.

For the competition’s opening match between Brazil and Croatia the long-nosed antelope refused to select a bone, suggesting the game could be a draw. For more predictions you can follow @psychicsaiga on twitter.

Saigas, which are members of the antelope family, once roamed the Eurasian steppe from the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains and the Caucasus into Mongolia and Dzungaria. Their numbers are now critically endangered with herds restricted to  areas of Kazakhstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.  

 

Alga Shaky Kangaroos!

1 Oct

Kazakhstan’s Shakhter Karagandy, better known to some UK supporters as the Shaky Kangaroos, is set to make its home debut in the Europa League this Thursday with the visit of Israel’s Maccabi Haifa to the Astana Arena, where Shakhter are playing its home legs. It is the first time a team from Kazakhstan has reached the group stages of Europe’s second tier contest.

Kazaxia is predicting a close run thing with both clubs losing their openers in Group L, with Shakhter losing 2-1 to Greece’s PAOK and Maccabi going down 1-0 at home to Holland’s AZ Alkmaar.

According to Lord Venal, the result will hinge on whether or not Shakhter will be allowed to sacrifice a sheep before the match. It was prevented from doing this before its second leg tie with Scotland’s Glasgow Celtic and subsequently lost 3-0 and failed to qualify for the Champions League.

The match has sparked a lot of interest in Kazakhstan with some fans even prepared to travel overnight by bus from the business hub of Almaty to the capital Astana.

For 20,000 tenge ($130) the bus will take the fans from Almaty’s Central Stadium to the Astana Arena with guaranteed match tickets, before making the 12-hour or so journey back down south. Kazaxia hopes that the trip will be worth it for these die hard fans.

Kazakhstan Cool on Links with Georgia, Azerbaijan Football League

17 Apr

Could Kazakhstan be on the verge of joining forces with Georgia and Azerbaijan to form a trans-Caspian football league?

If reports from NEWS.am, an Armenian source, are to be believed then the Georgian Football Federation is about to submit plans to the Union of European Football Unions (UEFA) for a super league combining the leagues of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. It appears that the Armenians are not invited.

The report ends with a denial from the Kazakhstan Football Federation, announcing that it has no plans to join such a league. This is probably a wise move as the travel for away matches would be huge. If, for instance, FC Dinamo Batumi were to face Almaty’s FC Kairat, they would be looking at an 8,600 km round trip. Not a very attractive prospect for either the players or the travelling supporters.

An added complication would be the fact that Kazakhstan’s top division plays its football from March to November, while Georgia and Azerbaijan play in the winter months from September to May.

Kazakhstan’s Rio Hopes Crash in Vienna

17 Oct

Kazakhstan’s extremely faint hopes of making it through the group stages to the Rio 2014 World Cup were finally extinguished last night as it crashed to a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Austria.

Having drawn 0-0 with the Austrians last Friday in Astana to get its first point of the campaign on the board, Kazakhstan crumbled in the return fixture. In its opening four games Kazakhstan has conceded eight goals while scoring only one.

Only the Faroe Islands has a worse record with no points on the board, nine goals conceded but two scored.  Next up for the Kazakhs will be Germany in Astana in March, but realistically its hopes for more points will come in its clashes with the part-timers of the Faroe Islands in the battle for group C’s wooden spoon.