Initially members of the Asian Football Confederation for their first two FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaigns (France 1998 and Japan/Korea 2002) after their country achieved its independence in 1991, the Kazakhstani national team subsequently joined UEFA. The transition to competing with Europe’s elite sides has been tough for Kazakhstan; during the three campaigns for Germany 2006, South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014, the former Soviet nation has secured a total of three victories, two against Andorra and one versus the Faroe Islands.
Almost all of Kazakhstan’s current squad, the average age of which is relatively high, play in the national championship, although some of their key players, such as captain Samat Smakov and goalkeeper Andrei Sidelnikov, do have experience of Russian football under their belts.
Russian Yuri Krasnozhan was handed the reins of the national side in February 2014. The former Lokomotiv Moscow and Terek Grozny supremo has enjoyed a rollercoaster coaching career, leading modest Spartak Nalchik to promotion to the Russian Premier League and then later losing his job at Anzhi Makhachkala without ever taking charge of the star-studded team – which included Samuel Eto’o at the time – in a competitive match.
2 – The number of different confederations (AFC and UEFA) in which Kazakhstan have competed, without ever managing to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup or UEFA European Championship.
The former stars
Ruslan Baltiyev, Viktor Zubarev, Dmitry Byakov