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Kazakhstan Teams Against European Top Managers - Part I

Kazakhstan Teams Against European Top Managers - Part I

Remembering celebrated coaches' rare visits to Kazakhstan both on international duties and in the club competitions.

It is obvious that even 14 years after gaining UEFA membership, Kazakhstan remains peripheral in the European footballing context. That means the nation has a few opportunities to enjoy the game's internationally acclaimed stardom at their own stadiums so far.

Take a look at European big-name coaches Kazakhstan teams had challenged as their opposition and Kazakhstan fans had seen from the stands.

Note that the list below is in chronological order and based on the matches that had been held on Kazakhstan soil.

Otto Rehhagel

Matches vs Kazakhstan team(s)

Greece 3-1 Kazakhstan (World Cup Qualification, 14/11/2004 Athens)

Kazakhstan 1-2 Greece (World Cup Qualification, 07/09/2005 Almaty)

The way things happened

Arriving in Kazakhstan just 14 months after he led Greece to their amazing EURO 2004 triumph, Otto Rehhagel saw his charges struggle against the stubborn minnows who had been making the European debut. Midway through that memorable encounter, Kazakhstan broke the deadlock with a shocking opener from Nurbol Zhumaskaliyev before they were reduced to nine men and the Greeks netted two late goals to bag a narrow victory, with Nikos Liberopoulos' match-winning attempt coming in the 94th minute.

Quote

I knew you have a very tough team because Ukraine also have sealed the win here only in the dying moments. When beating Kazakhstan 3-1 at home, we also could see that they are a good team with a great passion.– Otto Rehhagel.

Otto Rehhagel (L) had many difficult games in his career, and the match against Kazakhstan was amongst those (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Leo Beenhakker

Matches vs Kazakhstan team(s)

Kazakhstan 0-1 Poland (EURO Qualification, 07/10/2006 Almaty)

Poland 3-1 Kazakhstan (EURO Qualification, 13/10/2007 Warsaw)

The way things happened

Poland national team with Beenhakker at the helm had come to Almaty full of fears as they produced a slow start to the campaign, with Polish journalists talking of 'bad expectations' openly. Nevertheless, Ebi Smolarek struck in the second half to hand his side a hard-fought 1-0 win, and that was the beginning of Poland's exceptional route to the EURO 2008 finals.

Quote

I think there's a lot of work ahead of Kazakhstan. Your players perform to the best of their abilities. And for now, you can't ask for more. But the main thing is hard work, and your future is in your own hands.– Leo Beenhakker.

Two Dutch managers, Leo Beenhakker (R) and Arno Pijpers, at the press conference after Kazakhstan-Poland clash (Photo credit: Tlek Adryshev)

Javier Clemente

Matches vs Kazakhstan team(s)

Kazakhstan 2-1 Serbia (EURO Qualification, 24/03/2007 Almaty)

Serbia 1-0 Kazakhstan (EURO Qualification, 24/11/2007 Belgrade)

The way things happened

The first ever European win Kazakhstan recorded in a qualifying match came when Arno Pijpers' men surprisingly stunned Serbia 2-1 in front of a packed home crowd. Kairat Ashirbekov and Zhumaskaliyev both scored to give the hosts a two-goal advantage while Clemente's side could only reduce the arrears. The Spaniard, with his best days at Athletic Bilbao and Spain national team behind him, had been a failure as Serbia manager, and Kazakhstan's most inspiring performance since joining UEFA coincided with one of the most disappointing experience in Clemente's career.

Quote

Congratulations to Kazakhstan, they did well tonight, especially their wingers and holding midfielders. I want to highlight that we fielded our best squad and the reasons behind our loss bear no relation to playing model or climate aspects.– Javier Clemente.

Javier Clemente a day before historic Kazakhstan-Serbia qualifier at the Central Stadium in Almaty (Photo credit: Eduard Gavrish)

Luiz Felipe Scolari

Matches vs Kazakhstan team(s)

Portugal 1-0 Kazakhstan (Friendly, 20/08/2003 Chaves)

Portugal 3-0 Kazakhstan (EURO Qualification, 15/11/2006 Coimbra)

Kazakhstan 1-2 Portugal (EURO Qualification, 17/10/2007 Almaty)

The way things happened

An honoured Brazilian tactician had brought his star-studded Portugal side to Almaty to play out a thrilling meeting that never was an easy affair for the visitors. Kazakhstan have kept their high-profile opponents at bay for 83 minutes but eventually fell as sub Ariza Makukula and brilliant Cristiano Ronaldo have both beat custodian David Loriya to make it 2-0. However, Dmitry Byakov's late consolation strike helped Kazakhstan to leave the pitch with their heads held high.

Quote

There is more quality in Kazakhstan squad than in Azerbaijani one. Kazakhstan have three or four technically very good players and are very strong in terms of team spirit. They not afraid of playing.– Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Being suspended for Kazakhstan-Portugal game, Luiz Felipe Scolari (L) still was allowed to hold a pre-match press conference (Photo credit: Tlek Adryshev)

Frank Rijkaard

Matches vs Kazakhstan team(s)

Tobol Kostanay 1-1 Galatasaray A.Ş. (UEFA Europa League Qualification, 16/07/2009 Kostanay)

Galatasaray A.Ş. 2-0 Tobol Kostanay (UEFA Europa League Qualification, 23/07/2009 Istanbul)

The way things happened

After his Barcelona exit and subsequent sabbatical, Frank Rijkaard went to Turkey to be appointed as 'teknik direktör' by Galatasaray AŞ. And it was not very long before ex-AFC Ajax and AC Milan star faced Tobol Kostanay at European stage. The Dutchman's spell in charge of the Lions has been as quick as lightning for he failed to provide significant improvements to the team's form in Istanbul top club's hot seat. But Tobol didn't cause him a big headache, with the Turks earning a 1-1 away draw (aforementioned Zhumaskaliyev was on target again) and defeating Dmitry Ogay's side 2-0 at home in the second leg.

Quote

On paper, it seems like an easy game, but in reality it's not. Our players will need to work hard for their success. What do I mean by that? They should use all of their power and unite for victory.– Frank Rijkaard.

Although Tobol Kostanay weren't able to eliminate Galatasaray from Europa League, Frank Rijkaard's smiles didn't last long during his Turkish stint (Photo credit: Getty Images)

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