By Timur Kamashev
There is less than a month to go before the 2005 Kazakhstan Championship begins on 2 April, and preparations are gaining pace.
The majority of clubs are abroad on training camps, while the Football Union of Kazakhstan (FSK) has been busy ensuring that the nation conforms to UEFA standards for professional football leagues and has now secured the necessary credentials.
FC Okzhetpes Kokshetau, who finished eleventh in last year's table, took part in the annual President's Cup of Turkmenistan, collecting a 2-1 win against hosts FC Nisa. Okzhetpes (or Khimik) also drew 1-1 against Uzbekistani champions FC Novbakhor before losing 2-1 to FC MIKA of Armenia. Okzhetpes's Andrei Nenashev was voted goalkeeper of the tournament.
Kazakhstan is currently hosting a competition for deaf people, played under the rules of the Sporting Union of Deaf People, an organisation which enjoys representation on the FSK executive committee and recently received a donation of €14,000 from the body.
Aytpay Dyamantaev will continue to coach FK Akku Astana despite taking charge of the women's national team. Dyamantaev said: "There are six clubs in the Kazakhstan women's league, so we know all of our players. We have some promising youngsters and our side will be quite strong in two to three years." In UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2005™, Kazakhstan picked up two points in qualifying Group 6, holding Estonia and Israel to goalless draws.
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