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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.

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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.