Kairat Almaty will go into the UEFA Futsal Cup finals this month with a tenth straight Kazakh title under their belts after confirming top spot with two games to spare following a 13-5 league defeat of city neighbours CSKA.
Although they remain the dominant side, winning 31 and losing just one of their 34 fixtures so far, Kairat were made to work hard for the second star on their shirts after an extended league of ten teams proved competitive. In the end, they lost only to Tulpar Karagandy, and goalkeeper Vitaliy Khalyavin, 33, has the proud record of being part of all ten of Kairat's league triumphs.
Alongside Khalyavin for several of those successes was Cacau, and the Brazilian returned to the club as interim coach on a three-month deal in February when João Carlos Barbosa left for Russian side Sibiryak.
"I remember when I claimed gold medals in a Kairat jersey," Cacau told UEFA.com. "We had a great team capable of big things. Now I don't venture onto the pitch myself but stand near the bench with a magnetic board. Life is flying by, but there is nothing for me to complain about. I had a great career as a player, now I am coaching the club I love. Today we won our tenth title and made history."
The champions have little time to bask in their victory, however. Final league fixtures and friendlies against Barbosa's Sibiryak outfit lie ahead as Kairat prepare for their UEFA Futsal Cup semi-final against holders FC Barcelona in Tbilisi on 26 April.
For their part, Barcelona have already lifted the Spanish Futsal Cup and are riding high in the División de Honor, leading Murcia FS by five points with five regular-season games to go. Finals hosts Iberia Star Tbilisi look set to continue their monopoly of the Georgian title, meanwhile, having won all 11 of their matches this term, scoring 95 goals and most recently beating Burji Telavi 22-0. As for Iberia's semi-final opponents MFK Dinamo, they are also at their league summit, leading TTG-Ugra Yugorsk by nine points with a game in hand.
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