FC Kairat Almaty and Kazakhstan captain Samat Smakov has been named as his country's Player of the Year for 2004.
The poll, conducted by Goal! magazine, saw the 26-year-old midfield player collect 387 points to beat off competition from FC Moskva defender Ruslan Baltiev (301 points). Smakov led Kairat to a surprising Kazakh league title in 2004 as well as captaining the national team as they began their first FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign as a UEFA member nation.
Over 300 football writers, players, coaches and former footballers were polled by Goal! with Smakov emerging as 95 voters' first-choice, with 36 more giving him second place and a further 30 third position. A second Kairat player, Andrei Karpovich, finished third with 159 points.
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