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What We Learned From Kazakhstan Premier League Week 6

What We Learned From Kazakhstan Premier League Week 6
Irtysh Pavlodar put five past visiting FC Taraz side to move atop the KPL standings (Photo credit: fcirtysh.kz)

The best goalscoring amount of the season, coaching turmoil at Atyrau, last minutes doom for Kairat – take the five talking points after KPL Week 6 games.

1. Shaky defending is the key reason behind goals galore

23 goals (3,83 per game) have been scored in KPL in Wednesday's matches. With that, the league have hit new height in terms of end product generated by teams' front lines. Some of them have been things of a pure beauty.

But arguably, it is the weakness of defences coupled with late lapses in concentration, as lots of goals have come in closing stages, that these numbers illustrate rather than great offensive creativity of those who were firing up front.

As there were just two sides that avoided conceding in Week 6, FC Astana and Ordabasy Shymkent, erratic displays at the back could be seen throughout. Especially poor defending was produced by FC Taraz, Shakhter Karagandy ans FC Atyrau which cost them heavily as they shipped almost a half of all matchday's goals.

2. Last term's big guns have momentum

Irtysh Pavlodar grabbed the lead in the title race. Astana stretched their winning run to move within a point of the top, having played a game lesser. Ordabasy are all smiles again after stopping their losing streak.

All that means the last year's strongest sides remain among the competition's frontrunners as their top status and ambitions didn't change much. As the domestic veteran, former Kazakhstan national team skipper Askar Kozhabergenov put it, Astana kept their focus, Ordabasy are a formidable force with local players as their key faces, while Irtysh's competitiveness is amazing, despite their recent big squad changes.

By buliding on their recent form, these clubs confirm their quality to send message to the rest of the league – it would be difficult to remove them from the top half of the table. Because they haven't become any weaker in comparison with their 2016 campaign.

FC Aktobe (red) tried hard to cope with FC Astana's pressure at the Tarlan Arena but couldn't avoid a 3-0 loss (Photo credit: Vladimir Shapovalov)

3. Final minutes curse still haunts Kairat

Kairat Almaty should have been in the thick of the leading pack, given the level of play and result they showed against Tobol Kostanay in the first half away from home. The hosts have been flattened by Kairat's rushing attack (which once more operated in an unlikely Andrey Arshavin-less mode), with a deserved 2-0 advantage looking as a signal of a forthcoming victory.

This victory never came, though as the referee overlooked a foul from Alexey Schyotkin who pulled one goal back before Kairat's lopsided performance in the final minutes allowed Kostanay side to level things up.

That was the way Kairat dropped two more valuable points to register their fifth draw in 2017. In four of these five ties, Kakhaber Tskhadadze's men opened the scoring but failed to kill the match off. Late goals saw Kairat cough up the lead in three matches, too much for a title contenders. In the wake of Kaisar Kyzylorda's fall at Ordabasy, Kairat remain the last KPL team yet to lose but it's hardly a consolation.

4. Vulić is a first victim as managerial sack race starts

It took five gameweeks for KPL to testify the first managerial switch of the season. Shakhter head coach Alexey Yeryomenko looked like the favourite to leave his post but instead, it was his Wednesday's counterpart Zoran Vulić from Atyrau who made an early exit.

Prior to Week 6, Vulić, according to an official release, decided to step down having spent at the club less than four months (including three off-season months), "due to family circumstances". Shortly after, former Saturn Ramenskoye and Torpedo Moskva manager Sergey Pavlov has been unveiled as the Croat's successor. "Atyrau are my team now and I will fight for them," Pavlov stated at his first news conference.

Official: Sergey Pavlov appointed FC Atyrau head coach

Meanwhile, Atyrau fitness coach Kuanysh Kabdulov took over in an interim role for the Shakhter clash which was almost won by the Oilers, with a 3-3 draw leaving a bitter taste following the late comeback from Yeryomenko's men.

5. Overall stadia mess continues

Astana head coach Stanimir Stoilov again broached the subject: very poor pitches all over the country, while his forward Junior Kanananga mentioned the surface stiffness at the Tarlan Arena which hosted its first ever KPL game due to the pitch replacement works at the Astana Arena (nice timing, huh?).

Earlier, influential Kairat chairman Kairat Boranbayev – who was the FFK Executive Committee member until recently – claimed that the PFLK should pay attention to the quality of the pitches the teams of Kazakhstan's two first tiers are set to play on. Consequently, the league, after some inspections and field samplings conducted by its special groups, informed that Aktobe's ODYuShOR and Atyrau’s Sudoremontnik are unplayable grounds that fail to meet FIFA requiremets. The Sudoremontnik, however, has been used last time out, a somewhat bizarre situation.

In the midst of this mayhem, Akzhayik Oral and Tobol again have played their home fixtures at their reserve stadiums, meaning that at the moment, only four clubs from 12 (Irtysh, Ordabasy, Kairat and Kaisar) are able to host games at their regular venues. What a shame.

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