Our prediction for this Nations League match:
Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, the two former Soviet Republics, face each other at Astana Arena in what is expected to be a close UEFA Nations League game. The Kazaks did well to beat Moldova in the two-legged tie, but they will have a much bigger fish to fry in Friday’s showdown. A man to watch in the home team will be CSKA Moscow footballer Baktiyar Zaynutdinov, while Timur Dosmagambetov is pushing for a start.
The Azeri, on the other hand, aim to make amends for back-to-back losses to Malta and Latvia in March friendlies. Gianni De Biasi’s men are eyeing their first win over Kazakhstan since September 2011, but beating the Kazaks at Astana Arena is easier said than done. As previously mentioned, a close match is on the horizon, and we are tempted to put our money on draw. The opposition back-line should have Mahir Emreli at bay.
Highlighted Player (Dmitri Shomko):
Born in Ekibastuz, Kazakhstan on March 19, 1990 Dmitri Andreievich Shomko is a defender who plays for Astana. Shomko is a product of his home-town club Ekibastuzets, but he started his senior career at Batyr Ekibastuz.
As expected, the 182-cm tall footballer returned to his boyhood club and it has to be noted that he made nine appearances in the league for Ekibastuzets. Dmitri Shomko then moved to Irtysh Pavlodar and he played for the Kazak club from 2009 to 2014. In 2011 he was sent on loan to Astana and three years later he signed a permanent deal with the Blue and Yellows. His main position is left-back, but he is used as a left midfielder as well.
Over the years Shomko has established himself as a first-team regular at Kazakhstan national football team and he made his debut for the Hawks on February 2, 2011 in a 1-1 draw with Belarus. Shomko came as a substitute for Nurgaliev in the 85th minute of the match. He has 17 caps for the U21 team as well.
Highlighted Team (Azerbaijan):
Azerbaijan footballers were playing for Soviet Union national team from 1920 to 1991. In 1991 Azerbaijan gained its independence and they have been competing on the international stage ever since. The Azeri have yet to qualify for the finals of a major tournament, but they have been producing fine performances ever since Robert Prosinecki took over the reins.
On September 17, 1992 the Milli suffered a 6-3 loss to Georgia in their first international match and seven years later they recorded their biggest win, with the team beating Liechtenstein 4-0 in front of home fans in Baku. The Azerbaijan national football team wear blue shirts and blue shorts when playing at home ground, while the colour of their away kit is red.
Gurban Gurbanov is the most capped played (68) and the legendary attacker, who played for Azerbaijan from 1992 to 2005), scored 14 goals for the national team. It has to be noted that the former Soviet republic play their home matches at Baku Olympic Stadium, which was opened on March 6, 2015.