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Solid Kazakhstan Chalk Up a Stalemate in Georgia

Solid Kazakhstan Chalk Up a Stalemate in Georgia
Kazakhstan players celebrate Azat Nurgaliyev's opener (Photo credit: FFK Press Office)

Azat Nurgaliyev scored against Georgia as Kazakhstan national team drew level in their second friendly under new manager Talgat Baisufinov.

Following the 1-0 win over Azerbaijan bagged in Antalya on Saturday, Kazakhstan continued their unbeaten run to three matches at the Boris Paichadze Stadium in Tbilisi.

In what was a complicated debut for former Kairat Almaty coach Vladimír Weiss at the Georgian helm, Azat Nurgaliyev fired the visitors ahead in the 36th minute but the lead was short-lived as Tornike Okriashvili snatched an immediate  leveller to seal a 1-1 draw.

It was the fourth game between Kazakhstan and Georgia, with two sides clinching a narrow win each and tying once in three previous encounters.

A 0-0 draw has been recorded at the same venue in the World Cup qualifier, with the string of saves from Kazakhstan goalkeeper David Loriya, one of them a marvellous spot kick stop, preserving the first point the former Asian side picked in their maiden campaign at the European stage back in 2005.

Loriya, back into the national team's starting XI after a five-year absence, hasn't been in the spotlight this time since Talgat Baisufinov's men weren't in desperate need of his heroics, looking quite confident in all areas of the pitch and causing a lot of problems for their opposition.

That's not to say Irtysh Pavlodar glovesman wasn't called into action as he denied Valeri Qazaishvili's point-blank effort with a superb reflect save in the 13th minute. However, Loriya couldn't keep a clean sheet before he was substituted for debutant goalie Vladimir Plotnikov at half-time, with Okriashvili netting from outside the box with his nice one-touch right footed flick.

Okriashvili's goal was the Georgian quick response to opening strike from Nurgaliyev who converted Serikzhan Muzhikov's inviting cross to end a lovely four-pass move through the center and the right wing on 36 minutes.

A tight and even first half that produced two goals in two minutes, ended with 1-1 scoreline, and despite the series of chances, the teams remained goalless after the break.

Kazakhstan, while absorbing pressure and trying to control the centre of midfield and combine in the final third of the pitch, regularly had some space up front but lacked a decisive touch.

Nurgaliyev, Muzhikov, Samat Smakov – making his 73rd international appearance to join Ruslan Baltiyev as the most-capped Kazakhstan player – Islambek Kuat and Ulan Konysbayev all missed the target from various positions after being set up in open play throughout the second period.

In their turn, Georgia managed to create a couple of mouth-watering opportunities only to see them wasted. Salomon Kvirkvelia came agonisingly close as his 68th-minute corner header went inches wide before Nika Kacharava failed to beat Plotnikov in one-on-one situation 12 minutes from time.

A 1-1 draw felt like a fair outcome and it means Baisufinov was quite successful to meet the challenges in his two-game debut as Kazakhstan coach. The next match the team set to play is a friendly against Kyrgyzstan on August 30 in Bishkek.

Friendly match

Georgia v Kazakhstan 1-1 (1-1)
29/03/2016, Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena (Tbilisi). Ref: Pisani (MLT).
GEO: Revishvili, Lobjanidze (Vatsadze 90), Kashia, Amisulashvili (Kvirkvelia 46), Ananidze (Kenia 78), Navalovski, Kankava, Aburjania (Kvekveskiri 78), Qazaishvili, Okriashvili, Chanturia (Kacharava 46). HC: Vladimír Weiss (SVK).
KAZ: Loriya (Plotnikov 46), Beisebekov, Malyi, Logvinenko, Shomko, Kuat (Tagybergen 82), Smakov (Baizhanov 78), Muzhikov (Konysbayev 66), Suyumbayev, Nurgaliyev (Islamkhan 81), Schyotkin (Khizhnichenko 46). HC: Talgat Baisufinov.
Goals: 0-1 Nurgaliyev (36), 1-1 Okriashvili (38).
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