Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan have reached their debut UEFA European Futsal Championship but it is not their or their players' first taste of the big time.

©Takhir Sasykov

Kazakhstan have reached their debut UEFA European Futsal Championship final tournament but it is not their or their players' first taste of the big time.

The Football Federation of Kazakhstan (KFF) was a member of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) before joining UEFA in 2002. They finished third in the inaugural AFC Futsal Championship in 1999 and a year on were runners-up to Japan, thereby qualifying for the FIFA Futsal World Cup later in 2000 in Guatemala, losing to holders Brazil, the hosts and then eventual semi-finalists Portugal.

After the nation's switch to UEFA, they entered 2004 World Cup qualifing and yielded to Ukraine before beating Andorra. Kazakhstan's UEFA Futsal EURO qualifying bow, for the 2005 edition, began with a 6-5 success over Bulgaria before they drew 2-2 with Armenia and went down 5-1 to Romania.

Similar performances followed in the next qualification editions though Kazakhstan were gradually getting closer. The profile of the sport in the country was helped by Kairat Almaty's exploits in the UEFA Futsal Cup, the club getting to a string of semi-finals before lifting the trophy in 2013 and 2015.

It was with Kairat coach Cacau at the helm, and players Higuita, Leo, Douglas, Nikolay Pengrin and Dinmukhambet Suleimenov in the team, that Kazakhstan commenced qualifying for Serbia 2016. Though they opened with a reverse to Romania, they overcame Portugal 3-1 to end second in the group. That earned a play-off where they blew Bosnia and Herzegovina away 5-0 in Zenica and 4-0 at home.

Main round: Romania 4-6, Portugal 3-1, Georgia 4-0 (Group 7 runners-up)

Play-offs: Bosnia and Herzegovina 5-0(a), 4-0(h), agg 9-0

Key players
Higuita, Leo, Dinmukhambet Suleimenov

Coach: Alesio

Qualifying top scorers
Mikhail Pershin, Douglas, Chingiz Yesenamanov, Nikolay Pengrin 3

Tournament record
2014: Did not qualify
2012: Did not qualify
2010: Did not qualify
2007: Did not qualify
2005: Did not qualify
2003: Did not enter
2001: Did not enter
1999: Did not enter
1996: Did not enter

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