|   |  Background: Remembering Fondly Kairat's International Debut

Background: Remembering Fondly Kairat's International Debut

Background: Remembering Fondly Kairat's International Debut
Minutes prior to Kairat Alma-Ata v Vaasan PS kick-off

In about a fortnight, Kazakhstan clubs are to make start in the new European season. Ahead of this, let's take a look at the first international experience in the history of Kazakhstan football.

International matches played by Kazakhstan clubs and national teams are common practice these days. But in the Soviet era, there was a very poor involvement of local sides in the encounters against any opponents from outside the country as Kazakhstan was the part of the USSR until its very end in 1991.

The major footballing force in Kazakh SSR during that long period was Kairat, a team based in Almaty (back then known as Alma-Ata), the capital of the Republic at the time. They have never qualified to the European tournaments as the Soviet Top League representatives or Soviet Cup winners. Along with domestic football, they were able only to participate in unofficial matches and competitions.

The first time they experienced such event had come in 1957 when Finnish side Vaasan PS had visited Alma-Ata to play out a friendly game. Coincided with Halloween (which, of course, Soviet people were unaware of), it was the first ever international football match to be held on Kazakh soil and the first ever international event for Kazakhstan football team to take part in.

As you can find from historical sources, the match had become a subject of an extremely great interest all over the city. Although it could have hardly had a less proper timing, having been scheduled on 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, the event gathered about 10,000 spectators at the Spartak Stadium. The city authorities made sure those workers and office men with tickets have short working hours that day in order to be at the venue in time to watch the game.

Kairat-VPS match sheet

The visiting team got a hearty reception, with plenty of flowers, a cheerful speech from the local Physical Culture and Sports Committee boss and the banner written in Finnish: "We welcome footballers from Finland!" The day was sunny, at a temperature of plus 10, and the atmosphere was fantastic, while the football itself followed the suit, becoming a joyful showdown.

In spite of the fact that VPS had been a rather notable powerhouse in Finland at the time – winning two domestic titles in 1945 and 1948 – they failed to offer a strong display as Kairat were in control for the most part of the game. The hosts missed the penalty early on, with Moroz firing his spot-kick against the post, but that didn't spoil their party. Kairat have scored four unanswered goals, netting twice in each half of the match officiated by the refferee Arutyunov from Tashkent, Uzbek SSR.

Here some excerpts from the report published in local press those days:

Gasilin's excellent move ended up with the ball in the visitors' goal in the 19th minute. Kairat piled up the pressure to pull off a string of good saves from Ollila, a goalkeeper who had several caps for Finland national team to his name. Nevertheless, Ostroushko produced an unstoppable finish to make it 2-0. After the interval, the hosts were completely dominant. With 8 minutes played, Bolotov collected a brilliant pass from the left before notching the third. Four minutes later, the same Bolotov beat two defenders and placed the fourth goal into Vaasa's net.
(Kazakhstanskaya Pravda, No.257, November 1, 1957).
Kazakhstan side won 4-0 in an inspiring fashion which proved to be a lovely international debut for them and a great way to celebrate football as the most popular sport in the Republic in hard and dismal post-WWII years.

Friendly match

Kairat Alma-Ata v Vaasan PS 4-0 (2-0)
31/10/1957, Spartak Stadium (Alma-Ata). Att: 10,000. Ref: Arutyunov (Tashkent, USSR).
Kairat (URS): Denisov, Moroz, Yerkovich, Karetnikov, Mezhov, Kotlyarov, Kraskov, Ostroushko, Leonov (Ishanov), Bolotov, Gasilin (Mazmanidi).
Vaasa (FIN): Ollila, Karlsson, Rauhala, Lagerström, Svenlin, Granholm, Lepiste, Pukkila (Rauptahorti), Kuusisto, Tamminen, Saarinen.
Goals: Leonov, Gasilin, Bolotov (2).

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