If the results of the October 10 parliamentary elections were a slap in the face for many northerners, injury has been added to insult on the football field as Neftchi, a club based in the southern region of Jalal-Abad, caused an upset by claiming the Kyrgyz national championship for the first time in their history.
In recent times, the country’s upper league has been dominated mainly by northern clubs, specifically Bishkek-based Dordoi Dynamo, a subsidiary of the firm that runs Dordoi market, Central Asia’s largest bazaar. Backed by the financial might of owner Askar Salimbekov, the team had claimed all of the previous six national titles. For head coach Sergei Dvoryanko, defeat was hard to take.
Addressing journalists at a post-season press conference, Dvoryanko made reference to some of the difficulties he felt his team faced when playing games in the South:
“As a result of luck and fortune the team [Neftchi] took first place. Last year it did not exist at all. [The team] came together just before the start of the championship. Plus, you know the conditions in the South, and what it is like to play there. Without that, and with normal refereeing, Neftchi would not have become champions.”