Interim coach Talgat Baisufinov kicked off his Kazakhstan national team tenure with a promising 1-0 win over Azerbaijan in a friendly game in Antalya, Turkey.
Before the meeting, none of the two teams had a head-to-head advantage, with both sides having won two games against each other and sharing the spoils on three occasions. Even in terms of goal difference, nothing separated the teams who had scored nine goals each.
The parity was broken with just eight minutes played, Shakhter Karagandy midfielder Baizhanov duly heading Bauyrzhan Islamkhan's corner past Azerbaijani goalkeeper Kamran Aghayev and into the net to give Kazakhstan an early lead.
Robert Prosinečki's men tried to bounce back but lacked tempo and cutting edge to cause serious problems for the opposing backline and their confident shot-stopper Stas Pokatilov.
Kazakhstan controlled the proceedings in the first period and performed even more convincingly after the interval while Azerbaijan struggled to find their footing, stumbling into individual attempts to make an impact with rare flashes of technical brilliance.
Being more dangerous, Baisufinov's side wasted a number of great opportunities to double their lead as Sergey Kizhnichenko hit the side netting from inside the six-yard box and Baizhanov saw his clear-cut effort saved by Aghayev before Gafurzhan Suyumbayev and Alexey Schyotkin both delivered stunning shots against the crossbar in the space of just a second.
Azerbaijan's best chance came in injury time, with Javid Tagiyev sending his rebound wide after Pokatilov dealt with Namig Alasgarov's powerful free-kick. As a result, Kazakhstan hold on to assure a winning debut for Baisufinov, the first local manager to guide the national team since 2005.
Another difficult test Kazakhstan are going to face is Georgia team with ex-Kairat Almaty man Vladimír Weiss as their newly appointed boss. The match is to be held in Tbilisi on March 29.
Azerbaijan v Kazakhstan 0-1 (0-1)
26/03/2016, Gloria Sports Arena (Antalya). Ref: Ali Palabıyık (TUR).
Azerbaijan: Aghayev, Medvedev (Mirzabekov 46), Guseynov, Sadygov (Guliyev 46), Dashdemirov, Garayev (Abışov 73), Nazarov, Abdullayev (Mammadov 69), Ismayilov (Alasgarov 61), Ramazanov (Tagiyev 46), Gurbanov. HC: Robert Prosinečki (CRO).
Kazakhstan: Pokatilov, Akhmetov, Logvinenko, Malyi, Shomko, Smakov (Tagybergen 88), Muzhikov (Suyumbayev 76), Baizhanov (Kuat 59), Islamkhan (Nurgaliyev 64), Konysbayev (Dosmagambetov 67), Khizhnichenko (Schyotkin 71). HC: Talgat Baisufinov.
Goals: 0-1 Baizhanov (8).
YC: Kuat (86)