Roman Murtazayev's great form, Gerard Gohou's revival, Vladimir Nikitenko's disappointing exit and another picks from the KPL Week 10 action.
Another win, another clean sheet for the reigning champions who displayed a gulf in quality between themselves and Akzhayik Oral beating them 2-0 at the Astana Arena. "We controlled the game, had a lot of chances and scored two beautiful goals. It was important for us to win and we managed to do this," said Astana boss Stanimir Stoilov. With an amazing 28 points from a possible 30, the capital side are on course tor their third straihgt league triumph at the moment.
The only team in the league that look even more impressive than Astana are Irtysh Pavlodar. Dimitar Dimitrov's men, enjoying the best attack in the KPL, manage to keep the pace with the hegemonic leaders to stay just two points shy of them. And it's not deniable that one of the main sources of their superb run is goalscoring performances from Roman Murtazayev. In a 2-1 win over FC Taraz, the 22-year-old was at it again with a classy finish to take his season tally to seven. It means he opened up a three-goal gap on his rivals in the scoring race. He seems to be a hot prospect for Kazakhstan who lack sharpness in their front line and we really would love to see him in the national team's T-shirt.
Bakhtiyar Baiseitov's charges showed another evidences of their great home form, easing past Shakhter Karagandy 2-0 with Azat Nurgaliyev's spot kick and Yerkebulan Tungyshbayev's daisy cutter. Actually, the Southerners should have scored five or six as they had a plenty of opportunities in front of goal. If they improve their conversion rate, Shymkent supporters will be hoping that Ordabasy, one of the most entertaining teams in the 2016 Kazakhstan top flight, can produce a good European campaign this summer.
Okzhetpes Kokshetau have arrested their recent poor run in style by romping to a 4-1 victory over Zhetysu Taldykorgan to record a biggest away win in the league so far. The key man behind that was attacking midfielder Marat Khairullin who put two goals past the Semirechye defence, alongside with the strikes from Serge Nganbe and Zhasulan Moldakarayev. As long as Khairullin is on song Okzhetpes have strong chances to remain in the top three where they are sitting since mid-April.
The message sent by Aktobe time and again is clear, "Don't write us off". Indeed, despite having received a heavy financial blow in the second half of 2015, the Red and Whites are alive and kicking. Aktobe is a club with heart and strong mentality that has one of the best fan bases in Kazakhstan which helped them in the Western Derby against FC Atyrau. After producing a confident performance, Aktobe won it 1-0 thanks to Didar Zhalmukan's penalty to stay unbeaten at home this year. Now they occupy fifth place, a much better position than was expected as the pundits predicted they would face a relegation battle.
Gerard Gohou & Bauyrzhan Islamkhan
Kairat Almaty influential striker Gohou wasn't at his best in March and April but managed to convince with his brace in the 2-1 comeback win at Tobol Kostanay. The player who set him up on both occasions was the team's young captain Islamkhan. Without injured Andrey Arshavin, the heroics from the Ivorian athlete and the Kazakhstan international helped Kairat settle themselves in the top half of the table.
A 4-1 thrashing Zhetysu suffered at the hands of Okzhetpes was the first time in 2016 when a home side had allowed four goals. It doesn't help Taldykorgan men in the standings as they sit 11th with a worse defending record in the league (19 goals conceded). "We have already drawn some conclusions about who in the squad fell short of our expectations. And with eight regulars being injured, we have to turn to our youngsters," noted Zhetysu manager Almas Kulshinbayev.
In their first home game at their regular venue, the Central Stadium in Kostanay, Tobol started on a merry note but finished on a sad one against Kairat. An early penalty goal from Tomas Simkovic wasn't enough even for a draw as the hosts slipped to their second straight loss which saw them three points behind the top six.
With less than half of the Regular season played, there are three managerial changes occured in the league. After replacements in Kairat (Kakhaber Tskhadadze for Alexandr Borodyuk) and Tobol (Oleg Lotov for Dmitry Ogay), FC Atyrau followed the suit. A defeat against FC Aktobe provoked Vladimir Nikitenko's departure from the Oilers' technical staff. Atyrau have accepted his resignation a day after the manager opted to leave his post, stating at their official site: "The club initiates a search for a new head coach. Nikitenko's assistant Yuri Konkov has been appointed interim head coach".
Though Nurmat Mirzabaeyev's team looked competitive at Irtysh Pavlodar they had another bad day as they slip to defeat again. Taraz secured only two draws over their last nine outings, losing the rest seven games, and remain the only team in the league who yet hadn't get any points from their road trips.
The KPL statisticians
During their visit to Pavlodar, Taraz lost despite scoring two of three goals of the game. Irtysh took the lead but Malick Mané restored the parity and his team-mate Marat Shakhmetov struck the ball against the crossbar and into his own net after a corner. However, the league made a blunder as their stats department decided to officially award this as a goal to Irtysh forward Djiby Fall who seemingly didn't touched the ball at all while challenging Shakhmetov.
Struggling Jozef Vukušič's men were flat at Ordabasy and left South Kazakhstan being deservedly put to the sword. The setback ended their three-game lossless streak and one can argue that it was a dangerous sign for the team who recorded more points on their trips than at home.