Qualifying feats send Kyrgyzstan soaring


Kyrgyzstan sent shockwaves across Asia as the Central Asians emerged the continent’s best movers by climbing 16 places up December’s FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking to 108. While it marked the former Soviet republic’s all-time high in the global pecking order, the achievement is all the more impressive given a turbulent month for Asian teams as the likes of Iran, Japan and Korea Republic all lost ground.

The driving force behind Kyrgyzstan’s unprecedented move was, of course, their unexpected home defeat of Jordan in the recent qualifying fixture for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. The visitors were the undisputed favourites heading to Bishkek following back-to-back wins against Australia and Tajikistan, results which left the Hashemite Kingdom topping Group B a point clear of the Socceroos. Having held the Jordanians to a goalless draw away, however, the home side entered the re-meeting eyeing a real upset.

The game began as expected, with Jordan dominating in the early stages. The home team, meanwhile, defended gallantly and threatened on the counter-attack. The breakthrough came three minutes after the restart when Serbian-based midfielder Anton Zemlianukhin scoring the only goal as Kyrgyzstan pulled off what was arguably the matchday’s biggest surprise.