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2016 Kazakhstan Premier League Season Preview

2016 Kazakhstan Premier League Season Preview

Expectations from new Kazakhstan Championship which is about to start tomorrow.

Recent history has taught us that the league has only two consistent title contenders, and they are FC Astana and Kairat Almaty. The duopoly became totally evident last year when such clubs as FC Aktobe and especially Shakhter Karagandy due to the huge economic concerns lost great deal of the strengths they had demonstrated in the previous campaigns.

So this time around, expect only Astana and Kairat to participate in a title race, although it is unlikely that it will go in an Old Firm-esque or El Clásico-esque overdominant way.

Many observers suggest that outside the Two Capitals Derby, it would be something of “their own league”, tense and unpredictable one, with the bronze medals and remaining Europa League berths as best possible awards.

It is obvious that the majority of the league inhabitants will be hoping just to stay in the elite rather than targeting any bigger goals. And in order to seal survival as soon as possible, you do have to secure the top six finish in the Regular season. That means there are four spots (given that Astana and Kairat are already have their top places allocated, considering their quality, power and talent) lying up for grabs before ten teams.

FC Astana vs Kairat Almaty
Blue (FC Astana) and black-and-yellow (Kairat Almaty) are going to be prevailing color range in the 2016 KPL top games (Photo credit: Vladimir Shapovalov)

One can argue there are no obvious favourites in this group and almost all of these ten sides–each of them could be marked as underdogs or “dark horses”–are seemingly settled into the hot contention.

Yes, it is more likely that Ordabasy Shymkent, FC Atyrau or Tobol Kostanay would find themselves in the top half of the table in the summer than rapidly declined FC Aktobe or the promoted side Akzhayik Oral and Zhetysu Taldykorgan who have extended their top-flight football in the relegation playoffs.

But in general, the overall chances on making an impact and beating all odds are there for the average level of the league outside the Big Two is more or less equal. And you shouldn't underestimate such sides as the former league champions Shakhter Karagandy and Irtysh Pavlodar as they might have kept their podium dreams alive.

Find below details related to the clubs' transition between the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The predictions are provisional and to be reconsidered after closing of the transfer window on April 3. The Regular season calendar can be found here.

FC Aktobe

Last campaign
Regular season - 2nd (W12 D8 L2 GF27 GA12 GD+15 Pts44)
Championship round - 3rd (W15 D9 L8 GF35 GA 25 Pts32)
Head coach - Yuri Utkulbayev (RUS), replaced Ioan Andone (ROU)
Key squad changes
In - D Yegor Azovsky, F Sergey Lisenkov, D Kouassi Kouadio (CIV), D Samat Smakov, G Samat Otarbayev*, D Yegor Sorokin (RUS), M Nikita Bocharov (RUS), M Abylaikhan Totay
Out - D Yuri Logvinenko, G Stas Pokatilov, G Almat Bekbayev, D Dmitry Miroshnichenko, F Sergey Khizhnichenko, D Viktor Dmitrenko, F Danilo (BRA), D Anderson Santana (BRA), D Ayodele Adeleye (NGA), M Marcos Pizzelli (ARM), M Marat Khairullin, M Askhat Tagybergen, M Valery Korobkin, M Artūras Žulpa (LTU), M Ciprian Deac (ROU)
Regular season prediction - 8th.

Akzhayik Oral

Last campaign - First League champions
Head coach - Talgat Baisufinov
Key squad changes
In - M Predrag Govedarica (SRB), M Freddy Coronel (PAR), M Eduard Sergiyenko, D Saša Kolunija (BIH), F Sergey Gridin, D Danilo Nikolić (SRB)
Out - D Yanko Valkanov (BUL)
Regular season prediction - 11th

FC Astana

Last campaign
Regular season - 3rd (W12 D7 L3 GF40 GA19 GD+21 Pts43)
Championship round - champions (W20 D7 L5 GF55 GA26 GD+29 Pts46)
Head coach - Stanimir Stoilov (BUL)
Key squad changes
In - F Djordje Despotović (SRB), M Askhat Tagybergen, G Alexandr Mokin, D Mark Gurman, M Tokhtar Zhangylyshbay**, M Gevorg Najaryan (ARM), D Serhiy Malyi*, F Ulan Konysbayev**
Out - F Ulam Konysbayev*, D Yeldos Akhmetov, M Denys Dedechko (UKR), F Foxi Kéthévoama (CTA), M Igor Pikalkin, M Zhakyp Kozhamberdy, F Junior Kabananga (COD)*, G Vladimir Loginovskiy*, D Branko Ilić (SVN), M Georgi Zhukov**, D Serhiy Malyi*
Regular season prediction - 2nd.

FC Atyrau

Last campaign
Regular season - 4th (W9 D10 L3 GF25 GA19 GD+6 Pts37)
Championship round - 5th (W11 D12 D9 GF31 GA33 GD-2 Pts27)
Head coach - Vladimir Nikitenko
Key squad changes
In - D Aleksey Muldarov, D Aldan Baltayev, M Alexandru Curtean (ROU), M Vyacheslav Sharpar (UKR), F Pavel Shabalin, F Przemysław Trytko (POL), M Valery Korobkin, F Ulan Konysbayev*, F Alyaksandr Makas (BLR)
Out - D Berik Aitbayev, M Anton Chichulin, M Abdoulaye Diakhaté (SEN), F Ivan Ivanović (MNE), M Maksat Baizhanov, F Ruslan Fomin (UKR), F Murat Tleshev, D Michael Odibe (NGA)
Regular season prediction - 5th.

Irtysh Pavlodar

Last campaign
Regular season - 6th (W7 D9 L6 GF26 GA23 GD+3 Pts30)
Championship round - 6th (W10 D10 D12 GF37 GA39 GD-2 Pts25)
Head coach - Dimitar Dimitrov (BUL)
Key squad changes
In - F Ousman Jallow (GAM), D Yeldos Akhmetov, F Ignacio Herrera (CHI), M Roman Murtazayev, D Semir Kerla (BIH), D Georgas Freidgeimas (LTU), M Lester Peltier (TRI), D Serhiy Malyi*, M Gogita Gogua (GEO), G Anton Tsirin**, F Djiby Fall (SEN)
Out - M Samat Smakov, M Alassane N'Diaye (FRA SEN), F Kostyantyn Dudchenko (UKR), F Mustapha Alasan Jarju (GAM), M Evandro Roncatto (BRA), M Abylaikhan Totay, D Fernander Kassaï (CTA)**, D Antonio Ferreira (BRA)
Regular season prediction - 6th.

Kairat Almaty

Last campaign
Regular season - 1st (W13 D5 L4 GF43 GA14 GD+29 Pts44)
Championship round - runners-up (W20 D7 D5 GF60 GA19 GD+41 Pts45)
Head coach - Alexandr Borodyuk (RUS), replaced Vladimír Weiss (SVK)
Key squad changes
In - F Lukman Haruna (NGA)*, D Lukáš Tesák (SVK), G Andrey Sidelnikov
Out - M Serginho (BRA), M Bauyrzhan Baitana, G Sergey Tkachuk, D Mark Gurman, D Zaurbek Pliyev (RUS), F Djordje Despotović (SRB)**, F Tokhtar Zhangylyshbay**, M Ulan Konysbayev**
Regular season prediction - 1st.

Okzhetpes Kokshetau

Last campaign
Regular season - 7th (W8 D2 L12 GF24 GA33 GD-9 Pts26)
Relegation round - 8th (W12 D6 D14 GF36 GA41 GD-5 Pts29)
Head coach - Vladimir Mukhanov (RUS)
Key squad changes
In - F Sanat Zhumakhanov, M Marat Khairullin, M Anton Chichulin, M Anatoly Bogdanov, M Zhasulan Moldakarayev, G Jurakhon Babakhanov, M Igor Yurin, M Joseph Nane (CMR), M Zhakyp Kozhamberdy*
Out - M Pavel Shabalin, D Yegor Azovsky, F Sergey Gridin, M Ivan Cvetković (SRB), M Alyaksandr Pawlaw (BLR), D Michal Smejkal (CZE), F Luka Rotković (MNE), F Dmitri Sychev (RUS)**, M Ruslan Kenetayev, G Anton Tsirin**
Regular season prediction - 7th.

Ordabasy Shymkent

Last campaign
Regular season - 5th (W9 D8 L5 GF21 GA18 GD+3 Pts35)
Championship round - 4th (W12 D10 D10 GF32 GA31 GD+1 Pts29)
Head coach - Bakhtiyar Baiseitov
Key squad changes
In - M Dominic Chatto (NGA), G Almat Bekbayev, D Farkhadbek Irismetov, M Abdoulaye Diakhaté (SEN), F Filip Kasalica (MNE)
Out - G Andrey Sidelnikov, D Serhiy Malyi**, M Artem Kasyanov (UKR), G Samat Otarbayev*, F Ivan Božić (BIH)
Regular season prediction - 3rd.

Shakhter Karagandy

Last campaign
Regular season - 10th (W5 D3 L14 GF16 GA38 GD-22 Pts18)
Relegation round - 10th (W9 D5 D18 GF27 GA47 GD-20 Pts23)
Head coach - Jozef Vukušič (SVK), replaced Ihor Zakharyak (UKR)
Key squad changes
In - D Yevgeny Goryachy, G Sergey Tkachuk, M Maksat Baizhanov, D Oleksiy Kurylov (UKR), M Moshtagh Yaghoubi (FIN), M Erfan Zeneli (FIN), M Igor Pikalkin, D Ivan Sadovnichy, M Július Szöke (SVK), D Robert Arzumanyan (ARM)*
Out - D Aldin Džidić (BIH), D Andrey Paryvaew (BLR), D Aubrey David (TRI), D Aleksey Muldarov, M Andrey Karpovich, D Roman Murtazayev, F Mihret Topcagić (AUT BIH), G Aleksandr Mokin, F Maksym Feshchuk (UKR), F Jan Vošahlík (CZE)**, D Nikola Vasiljević (SRB)
Regular season prediction - 9th.

FC Taraz

Last campaign
Regular season - 9th (W7 D3 L12 GF17 GA25 GD-8 Pts24)
Relegation round - 9th (W10 D8 D14 GF25 GA33 GD-8 Pts26)
Head coach - Nurmat Mirzabayev, replaced Yevgeny Yarovenko
Key squad changes
In - M Oleg Nedashkovsky, M Taras Danilyuk, M Bauyrzhan Baitana, M Marat Shakhmetov, F Ihar Zyankovich (BLR), D Berik Aitbayev, F Malick Mané (SEN), G Dušan Djokić (SRB)
Out - M Timur Dosmagambetov, M Eduard Sergiyenko, G Jurakhon Babakhanov, F Oleksandr Pyschur (UKR), M Almir Mukhutdinov (RUS), M Izu Azuka (MGA), M Dmytro Bashlay (UKR), F Oleksandr Yarovenko (UKR)
Regular season prediction - 10th.

Tobol Kostanay

Last campaign
Regular season - 8th (W7 D4 L11 GF22 GA32 GD-10 Pts25)
Relegation round - 7th (W12 D6 D14 GF32 GA42 GD-10 Pts30)
Head coach - Dmitry Ogay, replaced Sergey Maslyonov
Key squad changes
In - F Sergey Khizhnichenko, M Alassane N'Diaye (SEN), M Dmitry Miroshnichenko, M Almir Mukhutdinov, M Timur Dosmagambetov, M Ciprian Deac (ROU), F Kostyantyn Dudchenko (UKR), D Fernander Kassaï (CTA), M Artūras Žulpa (LTU), G Vladimir Loginovsky*, D Viktor Dmitrenko
Out - C Arūnas Klimavičius (LTU), M Oleg Nedashkovsky, D Ivan Sadovnichy, M Nenad Šljivić (SRB), F Deivydas Matulevičius (LTU), M Anatoly Bogdanov, M Ognjen Krasić (SRB), F Ihar Zyankovich (BLR), F Uche Kalu (NGA), M Igor Yurin
Regular season prediction - 4th.

Zhetysu Taldykorgan

Last campaign
Regular season - 11th (W4 D5 L13 GF17 GA32 GD-15 Pts17)
Relegation round - 11th (W8 D6 D18 GF28 GA46 GD-18 Pts22)
Relegation playoff - W1 D0 L0 GF1 GA0 GD+1
Head coach - Almas Kulshinbayev, replaced Ivan Azovsky
Key squad changes
In - M Vadim Borovsky, M Gjorgji Mojsov (MKD), D Martin Klein (CZE), M Didier Kadio (CIV), F Boti Goa Demel (CIV), F Marko Simonovski (MKD), M Filipp Rudzik (BLR), D Marko Djalović (SRB)
Out - D Yevgeny Goryachy, M Davron Ergashev (TAJ), M Marat Shakhmetov, M Ruslan Galiakberov (RUS)**, M Bobir Davlatov (UZB)**, F Elbeyi Guliyev (AZE)**
Regular season prediction - 12th.

* loan players
** end of loan

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