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Shakhter Karagandy claim first Kazakh title

FC Shakhter Karagandy held their nerve to win a maiden Kazakh Premier League title from FC Zhetysu Taldykorgan while two-time champions FC Kairat Almaty went down.

Shakhter Karagandy's players celebrate the end of their 19-year title drought
Shakhter Karagandy's players celebrate the end of their 19-year title drought ©Zhanay Zhumadildin

FC Shakhter Karagandy claimed their maiden Kazakh Premier League title after defeating FC Astana 2-0 on the final day of the season.

Shakhter had to contend with freezing temperatures and a sudden snowstorm, but the treacherous conditions could neither prevent their top scorer Sergey Khizhnichenko from breaking the deadlock in the 19th minute nor adding his 16th goal of the season with eight to go.

"There was no way we could afford to lose tonight," said coach Viktor Kumykov, whose side have ended a 19-year wait for a title. "Though the weather tried to stop us, we executed our game plan very carefully and that was the reason we got the result we needed. We have to thank our fans because they deserved this long-awaited success."

FC Zhetysu Taldykorgan remained second despite losing 2-1 against FC Irtysh Pavlodar to claim their first runners-up finish. It was a miserable day for Astana as they were pipped to third place by FC Aktobe who clinched a 4-2 victory at FC Ordabasy Shymkent thanks to added-time goals from Malick Mane and Vladimir Djilas.

While FC Vostok Oskemen were relegated before their last match, there was still hope for FC Kairat Almaty. But the two-time Kazak champions were restricted to a draw against FC Taraz and hence went down for the second time in three years.