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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.


Kazakhstan: Beware of Flying the Flag

12 Oct

Kazakhstan will be hoping this evening to get their attempt to qualify for the Rio 2012 World Cup back on track as they entertain Austria in the Astana Arena. Having lost the opening two matches, Kazakhstan will be desperate to get some points on the board. Last October, when the Austrians were last in town, the Kazakhs pulled off a surprise 0-0 draw.

One thing Austrian supporters should be careful of is displaying their national flag as it is an offence in Kazakhstan to display the flags of other nations in public.

Kazakh fans should also be wary after a 23-year-old Atyrau resident was fined in excess of $2,000 for displaying the Kazakh flag on the bonnet of his car, as reported on

Under Kazakh law, the flag can only be placed in official places. The display on the car’s bonnet was felt to diminish the importance of the flag.

I just hope the authorities don’t discover the Kazakh flag bathtowel I was given as a birthday present a few years back. I’m sure my bathroom cannot be considered by any stretch of the imagination to be an official place!

Kazakhstan: The Road to Rio

7 Sep

Astana is facing an invasion from the Green Army as Kazakhstan begins its attempt to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Rio this evening with the visit of Ireland to the Astana Arena.  With Ireland fresh from a disappointing performance in Euro 2012, Kazakhstan, on home turf, will be looking to start with a positive result.

The chances of Kazakhstan getting as far as Rio are extremely slim – it’s also up against Germany, Sweden, Austria and the Faroe Islands in group C. Its best hope is to finish above the Faroe Islands and maybe snatch a surprise or two against Ireland or Austria.

Bookies are offering 4/1 on a Kazakhstan victory or 5/2 on the draw for tonight’s match if you think tonight could be the night for a surprise.

Reuters has this comprehensive piece on football development in Kazakhstan if you want to find out more about what’s going on in the soccer world in Kazakhstan.


Kazakhstan holds Austria

12 Oct

Kazakhstan pressure Austria with a rare corner at the Astana Arena

Kazakhstan ended its Euro 2012 qualification campaign on a relative high-note as it held Austria to a 0-0 draw in Astana on 11 October. Coming on the back of a 4-1 thrashing in Belgium, Kazakhstan did well to keep a clean sheet against the Austrians who were fresh from beating Azerbaijan 4-1 in Baku.

New boss Miroslav Beranek can take heart from the team’s performance as it nearly snatched victory over a lacklustre Austria. The Kazakhs came closest to scoring with a header from Sergei Ostapenko that hit the crossbar in the 74th minute.

Kazakhstan still finished 3 points adrift of Azerbaijan at the bottom of group A. Attention now turns to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, although Kazakhstan face an uphill task as it is paired once again with Germany and Austria. With Sweden and Ireland also in the group, Kazakhstan’s best hope may be to overhaul the Faroe Islands and avoid the wooden spoon.

Baku Showdown for Kazakhstan

5 Sep

Kazakhstan’s footballers are in Baku, Azerbaijan for a crunch match that will most likely decide who will take the wooden spoon in qualifying group A for Euro 2012.

After a dire run, Kazakhstan’s footballing fortunes appear to be on the up under new manager Miroslav Beranek. The Czech guided his charges to a 2-1 victory over Azerbaijan in June. Last Friday the Kazakhs were desperately unlucky to   lose to Turkey  by a goal scored in the sixth minute of injury time.

After the wake-up call in Astana in June, the Azeris scored a creditable draw with Belgium in Baku last Friday. Manager Berti Vogts will be hoping for no repetition of the emotional scenes that greeted him in Baku last June – a journalist threw a toilet roll at him during the post-match press conference amid anger over Kazakhstan’s victory.

Azebaijan are currently on 4 points and Kazakhstan on 3 so it’s all to play for tomorrow night in Baku with the ignominy of the wooden spoon at stake.

Kazakhstan Victory Sparks Fury in Baku

6 Jun

Astana Arena ... the new home of Kazakh football

Football fans in Kazakhstan are in a state of shock after the national team managed to beat Azerbaijan 2-1 in Astana last Friday. The victory gave Kazakhstan its first points in attempting to qualify for Euro 2012. In its five previous outings, the Kazakhs had failed to even score a goal.

Across the Caspian Sea in Baku, the reaction was one of anger at Azerbaijan manager Berti Vogts, who had toilet paper thrown at him at a press conference on his return from Kazakhstan. He was also presented with a ceremonial pitcher used for ritual ablutions.

There were other reports that Vogts had an ’emotional conversation’ with head of Azeri football Rovnag Abdullayev on his return to Baku. This result was a blow to the pride of the Azeris who now find themselves in a desperate struggle with the Kazakhs for the wooden spoon.

On the night in Astana, Kazakhstan’s hero was Sergei Gridin,  who was making his international debut He marked the occasion in great style with two second-half goals. The 24-year-old is a midfielder with FC Tobol Kostanay, who won the Kazakhstan league in 2010.

Vogts’s charges now have to play Germany on 7 June on home soil. When the teams met in Cologne in September 2010, the Azeris suffered a 6-1 defeat, so things do not look too bright for Vogts’s future on the shores of the Caspian Sea.