Another hard-earned victory for Astana, Kakhaber Tskhadadze and Gogita Gogua provide the Georgian touch, Aktobe show an intention to get their season back on track.
So far this season, the capital city club are unmatched in terms of character and team spirit, with wins Stanimir Stoilov's men have clinched being, as a rule, a hard-fought affair with late goals. A week ago, they scored on 83 minutes to decide the game against resilient FC Aktobe and this time Dmitry Shomko got the winner against FC Taraz with nine minutes to go.
Gogita Gogua & David Loriya
The Georgian midfielder Gogua is making his dead ball skills a great weapon for Irtysh Pavlodar while the Kazakhstan international shot-stopper Loriya – a guy with Georgian roots, too – also contributed massively to his team's presence on the top of the league. At Shakhter Karagandy, two corners from the former resulted in goals and the latter extended his unbeaten record. Irtysh are the sole KPL team to concede this campaign and also have scored a league-most nine goals.
Following their disappointing league start, Kairat Almaty have parted ways with Alexandr Borodyuk to bring in Tskhadadze. And it is supposed that the former Georgia manager's spell wouldn't be as short as the Russian's one. Fresh and enthusiastic after his appointment, Tskhadadze led his new team to an important 1-0 win at FC Atyrau as Gerard Gohou made the difference with his 35th league goal. Now Almaty fans can hope that Kairat's first victory in 2016 set the side – which have still yet to play on home turf this season – to chase the league leading pack.
Like Tskhadadze, Yuri Utkulbayev snatched his maiden win in the KPL although it took four games the Russian coach to bag it. His Aktobe side, looking recovered from the March woes, have defeated Zhetysu Taldykorgan 3-2 in what was a thrilling affair. "I think, the more such games we play [in the league], the more spectators we get," reacted Utkulbayev. Samat Smakov netted a free-kick before Nikita Bocharov added his strike to hand Aktobe a two-goal margin at half-time. The Semirechye side reduced the deficit through Martin Klein on 52 minutes only for Toktar Zhangylyshbay to restore Aktobe's comfortable advantage in the 86th minute. The last goal of the evening came from Dušan Savić but it wasn't enough for Zhetysu to grab a draw.
In a tough outing against Ordabasy Shymkent, Tobol Kostanay needed a second-half introduction of their veteran captain Zhumaskaliyev to earn a point in Southern Kazakhstan. The goals from Mardan Tolebek and Abdoulaye Diakhate either side of Tomaš Simković's 21st-minute equaliser put Ordabasy in front foot but Zhumaskaliyev made it 2-2 to ruin host side's win three minutes into stoppage time.
Another Kazakhstan veteran, Okzhetpes attacker Buleshev marked his 35th anniversary exactly on a day his team played against Akzhayik Oral. And he managed to give himself a proper gift by scoring his third goal of the season in a 2-0 win that means Okzhetpes lifted into top four in the standings. Buleshev dedicated his heroics to his teammate Anton Chichulin whose father passed away recently.
We've got another strong evidence of a lingering problem in Kazakhstan football as a number of venues still aren't capable of hosting matches. That occur every spring when heavy climate conditions, coupled with obsolete stadiums and poor organisational efforts, harm pitches, most significantly in Northern regions of the country. In Week 4, only Astana, Akzhayik and Ordabasy welcomed their opposition on their regular grounds, with Atyrau and Shakhter using backup venues. And Aktobe even had a 1,450-km travel to the capital city to 'host' Zhetysu on an artificial surface of the Astana Arena, the stadium that – what a whimsical fact – has seen two games in one day.
Having dismantled Kairat in the previous matchday, Talgat Baisufinov's men looked to build upon that but found themselves frustrated by Okzhetpes in front of their own home crowd. "Our key problem is inability to refresh our display with substitutions," explained Baisufinov at the post-match media conference.
Ordabasy have impressed against Tobol but were affected by Suyumbayev's dismissal for the unsporting behaviour in the 37th minute. Even with ten men they were close to victory but let it slip through their grasp just moments before the final whistle. There are discipline concerns – note that their boss Bakhtiyar Baiseitov has been serving his two-game suspension – that overshadow Ordabasy's performances and results. As it is, Shymkent side sit fifth, trailing Tobol and Okzhetpes on goal difference.
The Pitmen had been shaky since the start of the season and that was confirmed in their meeting with Irtysh. Losing at home, Shakhter stay rock bottom with the worst defence and the worst attack in the league.
FC Atyrau under Nikitenko had been a tough-to-beat side in 2015 and that's not the case this term. After the home defeat to Kairat, Nikitenko remains among those colleagues who still didn't taste a win with his team, with the only point gained by the Oilers seeing them struggle in 11th position.
In spite of having possession and plenty of chances against efficicent and counterattacking Aktobe, Almas Kulshinbayev's men left home empty handed. It was the first 45 minutes with two goals conceded that laid the foundations of their harsh loss. "I was surprised at how nervous my players were in the first half. It's hard to explain," sighed Kulshinbayev after the game. If Zhetysu fail to sort out those defensive issues they surely will be dragged into another gruel battle of the league cellar dwellers.
The Southerners weren't able to prevent dominant Astana from finding spaces and threaten almost in a nonstop mode. For the most part, Taraz somehow managed to hold them and even netted against the run of play but eventually failed to defend the 1-1 scoreline. Suffering a defeat, they slipped to seventh place.