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Season review: Kazakhstan

Published: Wednesday 13 November 2013, 9.17CET
FC Aktobe owed their fifth Kazakh Premier League title to 18-year-old Abat Aimbetov during a season in which FC Shakhter Karagandy tasted cup glory for the first time.
by Aidyn Kozhakhmetov
from Almaty
Season review: Kazakhstan
Aktobe celebrate their title triumph ©Natalya Panchenko
Published: Wednesday 13 November 2013, 9.17CET

Season review: Kazakhstan

FC Aktobe owed their fifth Kazakh Premier League title to 18-year-old Abat Aimbetov during a season in which FC Shakhter Karagandy tasted cup glory for the first time.

FC Aktobe ended a four-year wait for the Kazakh Premier League title in dramatic fashion, while FC Shakhter Karagandy enjoyed cup success for the first time.

Champions: FC Aktobe
When coach Vladimir Nikitenko replaced Vladimir Mukhanov midway through the season, the champions found consistency, especially at home, where they lost just once in 16 outings. Aktobe were nonetheless facing up to a title play-off with FC Astana until a last-minute goal from 18-year-old forward Abat Aimbetov salvaged a 2-2 final-day draw with FC Ordabasy Shymkent and secured their fifth Kazakh crown.

Cup final: FC Shakhter Karagandy 1-0 FC Taraz
Shakhter made up for the disappointment of failing to defend their league title by clinching a first Kazakh Cup. Sergei Khizhnichenko struck the decisive goal shortly before the interval, turning in Aleksandar Simčević's low cross. The victory capped a memorable year for UEFA Europa League hopefuls Shakhter, who this season became the first club from Kazakhstan to compete in a UEFA competition group stage.

European places*
FC Aktobe – UEFA Champions League second qualifying round
FC Astana – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round 
FC Kairat Almaty – UEFA Europa League  first qualifying round  
FC Shakhter Karagandy – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round 

*Subject to confirmation from UEFA

Player of the Year: Peter Badlo (FC Aktobe)
Appointed captain at the start of the campaign, the 37-year-old full-back thrived on the added responsibility by producing a string of fine performances. Badlo also weighed in with four goals from 29 Premier League appearances, three of which proved the match winner.

One to watch: Stas Pokatilov(FC Shakhter Karagandy)
The 20-year-old custodian spent the first half of the campaign at FC Akzhayik Uralsk, where he caught the eye sufficiently to earn a summer move to Shakhter. Pokatilov staked a strong case to displace experienced keeper Aleksandr Mokin as No1 with a sparking display on his UEFA Europa League debut at AZ Alkmaar.

Surprise package: FC Kairat Almaty
Under the stewardship of former Slovakia boss Vladimír Weiss, Kairat defied their underdog status to comfortably claim third spot. Despite failing to win any of their opening four league games, Weiss's men rallied, eventually posting four victories from seven remaining matches to record their highest finish in eight years.

Leading scorer: Igor Zenkovich, FC Shakhter Karagandy (15)

Relegated: FC Vostok Oskemen and FC Akzhayik Uraisk

Promoted: FC Kaysar Kyzylorda and FC Spartak Semey

Number: 100
This year marked 100 years of football in Kazakhstan.

Quote: 
"It would have been a great injustice had we not won the championship. We led the way from the start and deserve this success. The goal was scored by youth academy product Abat Aimbetov – a young lad we have great hopes for."
Aktobe coach Nikitenko

Last updated: 13/11/13 11.50CET

http://www.uefa.com/memberassociations/association=kaz/news/newsid=2022956.html#season+review+kazakhstan

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