Take a look at the Week 9 events in KPL as Astana and Irtysh transforming the competition into their own league while outside the top two there were struggles amid weather extremes.
Stanimir Stoilov and Dimitar Dimitrov continue to conquer the league with their exceptional FC Astana and Irtysh Pavlodar sides, respectively. Astana remained on top of it with a trademark narrow 1-0 win at Okzhetpes Kokshetau while Irtysh eased past Tobol Kostanay 3-1 in front of their home crowd.
The Bulgarian managers are a big factor and huge success in the KPL, and their compatriot Petar Hubchev has been rumoured recently to be offered the job at named Tobol. Add another man from Bulgaria to that list, with goalkeeper Nikolay Mikhaylov (former Liverpool FC and Twente Enschede glovesman, out of the club at the moment), linking to 'one of the KPL clubs', and you can see that Bulgarian football products are having a growing impact in Kazakhstan.
The Serbian loanee, a winter acquisition from Crvena Zvezda, proved his worth by netting his fourth strike in Astana's shirt in an important clash against Okzhetpes. A headed goal from the forward after Patrick Twumasi's corner was his 17th overall in the KPL, since he also has been impressive at Zhetysu Taldykorgan and Kairat Almaty in 2015.
Roman Murtazayev & Gogita Gogua
Irtysh are the best side in the league both offensively (20 goals) and defensively (just four conceded). In the attacking department, it's Gogua and Murtazayev who you'd like to point to when asked about their most influential players. It was the case again when Irtysh proved to be sharp and clinical in dead ball situations to see the 22-year-old register his sixth strike to maintain his lead in the scoring charts while the Georgian winger slotted a spot kick to take his season tally to four (and please don't forget he's an indispensable assist-maker, too).
After a discouraging loss at the Astana Arena, Kairat faced a stubborn opposition in the shape of Zhetysu Taldykorgan but managed to overcome it and win the Semirechye Derby. For almost the entire game, Kairat pushed forward and had a lion share of possession which took its toll, resulting in two unanswered goals. The Southern Capital club returned to top six to please their head coach Kakhaber Tskhadadze.
The Pitmen have notched up their first away win of the season, hitting twice against FC Taraz through their experienced leaders Sergey Skorykh and Andrey Finonchenko. Before the gameweek kickoff, Shakhter sat second bottom in the league, just one point above the foot of the table. Now, they are eighth with some comfortable four-point cushion. "Let's hope this win give us momentum to move up the table," said Skorykh.
FC Atyrau have rescued a point thanks to Trytko's well-timed contributions. The Polish attacker provided two equalisers in the final moments of each half of the Ordabasy Shymkent game to cancel out the visitors' advantage. It was the second and the third goals in eight matches in Kazakhstan for Trytko who joined Atyrau in February after leaving Korona Kielce.
Those who expected a great battle between the first and the third team of the league, have been left disappointed by Okzhetpes' ability to compete with FC Astana. The host side looked miles away from the quality that Astana offered and couldn't deny their opponents who were on front foot seemingly without spending too much energy. "We couldn't hit them on the counter, Astana players shut down spaces. I was surprised by our mistakes when we tried to run forward, and we were poor on set-pieces," reacted Okzhetpes manager Vladimir Mukhanov.
In another evidence of horrific infrastructural problems in Kazakhstan, several games have been held in pretty bad conditions, with shaky May weather spoiling affairs in Taraz, Uralsk and, most notably, Atyrau. At the Munaishy Sports Complex that hosted its first match in 2016, a pouring rain has transformed the pitch into kind of a flood plain which covered Atyrau and Ordabasy footballers with glory and mud.
2011 champions gave their all in Pavlodar but lack of composure and erratic defending display against Irtysh's set pieces ruined them. Still waiting for their first away victory this campaign, Tobol fell down from top six to find themselves behind Kairat, whom they set to entertain next Monday, on goal difference.
Bauyrzhan Turysbek & Zhasur Narzikulov
Zhetysu midfielder and Atyrau keeper have scored two first own goals in the 2016 campaign. When Taldykorgan side failed to stop Kairat Almaty, it was Turysbek who helped the hosts find the breakthrough. Gerard Gohou headed Bauyrzhan Islamkhan's cross before Zhetysu goalie Andrey Pasechenko saved it but the ball ricochetted off Turysbek and into the net to give Kairat a 1-0 lead. As for Narzikulov, he netted against himself after the contact with Ordabasy player Rinat Abdulin.
Bauyrzhan Baitana probably struck the goal of the week but it actually counted for nothing as his Taraz produced a lacklustre home performance to fall 2-1 to Shakhter, remaining rock-bottom in the table. The team who used to be among Kazakhstan elite and have Ihar Zyankovich in attack, should do better than they are doing this season.