Good day for top six teams except of Kairat and Aktobe, bad day for cellar-dwellers. Take a look at pickups from the Week 16 action.
The league & supporters
Week 16 has generated the biggest amount of goals this campaign, with 24 of them scored in six matches (4.0 per game). The previous season record has been set in Week 12 on May 21 when Kazakhstan top tier sides have found the back of the net 19 times (3.17 per game). That is obviously good for the league itself and supporters and TV audiences (though, television is unimpressed and still escaping domestic football).
Bulgarian coaching staff
Good day for Stanimir Stoilov, Dimitar Dimitrov and Stoycho Mladenov who are developing winning mentality in the Premier League. Stoilov's FC Astana confirmed their incredibly consistent form by claiming a tense 2-1 victory at Tobol Kostanay and boosting their title credentials. Dimitrov led his second-placed Irtysh Pavlodar side to a crushing 4-1 defeat of FC Aktobe, showing a positive attitude and battling mindset. And Mladenov's FC Atyrau grabbed a resounding 4-0 away win against Akzhayik Oral, his second in as many matches in the 2016 KPL, which is a great momentum for the Oilers.
"I think the final score reflects the run of play," said Okzhetpes boss Vladimir Mukhanov following his team's massive 3-0 win over Shakhter Karagandy that kept them in the battle for the European berths. In such a manner, Okzhetpes marked a very good season opener at their Okzhetpes Stadium, with all their previous home games having been played at neutral venues, in Astana and Schuchinsk.
The first hat trick of the 2016 KPL campaign (with the second goal being a pure 'golazo', watch the highlights below) came from Zhetysu Taldykorgan attacker who was a catalyst for their 3-2 win at FC Taraz. As it stands, the Macedonian player reached the second highest goalscoring numbers in the league, scoring nine. Savić's heroics helped Zhetysu climb from bottom two to midtable battle with the hopes on top-six finish. And it's no surprise that he is reportedly became the transfer target for FC Astana this summer.
Despite blowing a comfortable lead, Bakhtiyar Baiseitov's outfit were quite good in a meeting with high-flying Kairat Almaty at their fortress in the Southern Capital. After three losses in a row, Ordabasy held their nerves and got valuable four points from the clashes against top rivals, Irtysh (1-0 home win) and Kairat (2-2 away draw) to keep the challenge for the top-four finish and stay calm ahead of their UEFA Europa League campaign kick-off.
Kakhaber Tskhadadze hailed his Kairat players who overcame a two-goal deficit against Ordabasy but the matter of fact is they dropped two important points and now have an enormous 13-point gap on the league leaders Astana. Former Kazakhstan international Ali Aliyev was asked yesterday: "Is the title race over for Kairat?" The answer was: "I think it is."
In their last couple of games, Shakhter were beaten with a 8-0 aggregate scoreline. They remain the league-worst attacking team (just five goals scored) and have the league-worst goal defferential of minus-18. Which speaks volumes about the fortunes and abilities of the club that beat Celtic FC in the Champions League less that three years ago.
No doubt, FC Taraz are in the middle of a crisis. They fought with heart against Zhetysu but all was in vein as they woke up a bit too late to prevent the visitors from leaving the city as winners. Rock-bottom Yuri Maksymov's men extended their losing streak to three matches and in total, they are winless in 16 games this year! Maksymov was in charge only in five of them but he looked very depressed after the game, saying: "If I can't help the team, this job is not for me."
The First League champions who perform under Kazakhstan national team manager Talgat Baisufinov were poor against their neighbour rivals FC Atyrau. Suffering an overwhelming home loss, they settled themselves as the weakest defence in the KPL, with 27 goals allowed. "Our experienced players failed in the most important spell of the game when we missed a penalty," lamented Baisufinov as Akzhayik last week hero Freddy Coronel was denied from the spot at 2-0 early in the second half.
"We played our worst game this season," said Aktobe head coach Yuri Utkulbayev after his side were hammered in Pavlodar. But the truth is even more unpleasant for the five-time league champions. The Western club is going through their worst period in years, looking bleak in competitve action as the Red and Whites are on the verge of slipping down to the bottom half of the table and very quarrelsome off the pitch, the latter mostly due to their scandalous and maladapted Russian Director General Dmitry Vasilyev who, after just several months in Kazakhstan, became known for his infamous declarations. The last example of his ill-famed approach was his proposition to... expel Kairat Almaty from the league because the club withdrew their players from international duty in China-Kazakhstan friendly.