Kyrgyzstan have remained a low-profile member of the football family since they joined FIFA in 1994. But the Central Asian underdogs have a football-loving tradition and enormous promise, as much as any of the former Soviet Republics that began playing in the Asian Zone. Of course, there is still a long way to go -- as was demonstrated in qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™.
They managed a win and a draw over Singapore in their preliminary qualifying group, but then lost all four matches against more experienced Middle Eastern sides, Bahrain and Kuwait. They did particularly well against group winners Bahrain, however, losing tight matches 1-0 and 2-1. Their performances and physical abilities were such that observers tipped them for great things to come.
An early exit in the preliminary qualifying round for the 2004 Asian Cup was another heavy blow. They beat eventual group winners Nepal, but their opening loss to Afghanistan put them out on goal difference.
A straightforward 6-0 aggregate victory over once-promising Pakistan in the preliminary qualifying tie for Germany 2006 had Kyrgyzstan looking forward to their chances of making an impact. But a pair of 2-1 defeats against their Central Asia neighbours Tajikistan in addition to two losses against group winners Bahrain sent them bowing out of group 6 as the bottom team.
Their lack of pedigree on the continental stage was shown again in this August's Nehru Cup, where they finished behind winners Indian and Syria. Having gained experience against Syria the team, under coach Boris Podkorytov, are hoping to fare better against another West Asian team, Jordan, in their two-legged preliminary meetings for 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.