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Ordabasy raise eyebrows

Monthly review: FC Ordabasy Shymkent are the surprise joint leaders in Kazakhstan.

By Timur Kamashev

Ordabasy surprise
The success of Ordabasy, 13th in 2004, is a particular surprise. They drew level on 21 May as Aktobe were held 1-1 by FC Shakhtyor Karagandy and Ordabasy defeated point-less basement side FC Bolat MSK Temirtau 1-0. When the international break ends on 12 June, Ordabasy welcome Aktobe, fourth last season and among the expected pretenders to FC Kairat Almaty's crown.

Champions struggle
Kairat themselves remain hopeful even though they lie eighth, seven points adrift of the leaders having not won in three games. The champions' optimism is not unfounded - at this stage last season they were 13th.

Favourites disappoint
Other favourites who have disappointed are FK Atyrau and FC Zhenis Astana, tenth and eleventh respectively. Zhenis have decided to ring the changes at board level while Atyrau have replaced coach Aleksandr Golokolosov with Kazakhstan national team chief Serguei Timofeev.

Tobol recover
Also changing their coach were FC Tobol Kostanay, where Vladimir Pachko resigned after the 4-0 defeat by Zhenis on 14 May. However, since then they have overcome Kairat and FC Irtysh Pavlodar by 2-1 scorelines to move to within two points of the leading pair, and have high hopes under Dmitry Ogaj, who led Irtysh to two championships.

Lowly Zhetysu
FC Zhetysu Taldykorgan coach Boris Podkorytov is currently in hospital and it is not clear if he will resume his role. The 13th-placed team have improved under caretaker by Igor Svechnikov.

Cup quarter-finals
Zhetysu are in a good position to eliminate Kazakhstan Cup holders FC Taraz, having drawn 1-1 away from home in the first leg of their quarter-final on 17 May. FC Yesil Bogatyr defeated Zhenis 1-0, Atyrau gained a similar home victory against FC Vostok and Kairat prevailed 2-0 at Ordabasy. The returns are on 21 June.

New stadiums
Following in the footsteps of FC Okzhetpes Kokshetau and Zhetysu, in opening new stadiums, Aktobe and Shakhtyor will soon move to fresh homes and construction of Ordabasy's arena is under way.

UEFA honour
Meanwhile, Kairat enter the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round draw on 24 June with Taraz and Irtysh in the UEFA Cup. UEFA President Lennart Johansson has been awarded Kazakhstan's Dostyk Order of Second Degree for the role he played in welcoming the nation to the European football family in 2002.