Thursday, March 1, 2018

Central Asia Greatest All-Time Team

1994 Asian Games Gold Medalist
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Soviet UnionRussiaUkraine
The former Soviet Union without (Ukraine and Russia).
AustraliaSaudi ArabiaIran.
ChinaJapanSouth Korea.
Hong Kong
East AsiaWest Asia(without Iran and Saudi Arabia),
Central AsiaSouth East Asia(ASEAN).

Central Asia stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China in the east and from Afghanistan in the south to Russia in the north. It is also colloquially referred to as "the stans" as the countries generally considered to be within the region all have names ending with the Persian suffix "-stan", meaning "land of". Central Asia is sometimes referred to as Turkestan. 

Central Asia has a population of about 70 million, consisting of five republics: Kazakhstan (pop. 18 million), Kyrgyzstan (6 million), Tajikistan (9 million), Turkmenistan (6 million), and Uzbekistan (31 million). Afghanistan (pop. 35 million).  All the countries , except Afghanistan, was a part of Soviet Central Asia.

Except Kazakhstan, all of them played in AFC.  Since 2002, Kazakhstan has been playing in the UEFA. 

GK: Yuri Pshenichnikov (Uzbekistan/USSR)
Born in Uzbekistan, Yuri Pshenichnikov played for FC Pakhtakor Tashkent from 1960 to 1967.  From 1968 to 1971, he played for CSKA Moscow.  He was the Soviet Goalkeeper of the Year in 1968. He earned 19 caps for the USSR national football team between 1966 and 1970.  He was the starting keeper at the UEFA Euro 1968, where the Soviets lost to the eventual winner Italy by a coin toss.
Yuri Pshenichnikov 
GK: Vladimir Lisitsin (Kazakhstan/USSR)
Lisitsin played twice for USSR.  He was blamed by Soviet coach Yevgeny Lyadin for the loss against East Germany in the 1964 Olympic Qualifier.  He was expelled from the team.  Forces club career, he played mainly with FC Kairat in Kazakhstan, but he also played for Dynamo Moscow and Sparktak Moscow.  He was born in Kazakhstan of Russian ethnicity.

GK: Ignatiy Nesterov (Uzbekistan)
Born in Uzbekistan of Russian ethnicity, Ignatiy Nesterov has played over 90 times for Uzbekistan.  He represented them in four editions of Asian Cup: 2004, 2007, 2011 and 2015. Before signing for Pakhtakor in 2002, Nesterov played for FK Samarqand-Dinamo.  He joined Bunyodkor in 2009 and then, now with Lokomotiv Tashkent.  With Pakhtakor and Bunyodkor, he won 10 Uzbek league titles in 11 seasons and 8 of those seasons with winning the Double.

RB: Samat Smakov (Kazakhstan)
Samat Smakov is Kazakhstan's all-time appearance record leader with 76 caps between 2000 and 2016. He was Kazakhstan FF "Best Player of the year" in 2004 and 2008. He played for many clubs in Kazakhstan.  He held FC Aktobe's club record for most Premier League appearances, before being surpassed by Yuri Logvinenko.  He also had a lengthy career with FC Kairat Almaty.  Outside of Kazakhstan, he played two seasons with FC Rostov in Russian Premier League. 
Samat Smakov 
CB: Evgeni Yarovenko (Kazakhstan/USSR)
Evgeni Yarovenko was born in Kazakhstan, Soviet Union as an ethnic Ukrainian.  He was a member of the Soviet Olympic team that won the Gold medal in 1988 Summer Olympics held in Seoul.  He also played twice for the senior national team in 1987. He started with Almaty club FC Kairat in Kazakhstan, where he played from 1983 to 1988.  Then he joined FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and FC Rotor Volgograd. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, he played for many clubs in Russia, Ukraine and Finland. 
Evgeni Yarovenko
CB: Valeri Glushakov (Kazakhstan/USSR)
Born in Kazakhstan under the Soviet Union, Valeri Glushakov was capped at under-21 level by the Soviet Union. In 1977, he made his debut with Spartak Moscow. He moved to Pakhtakor Tashkent FK before joining CSKA Moscow in 1980,  where he would play for them in three different stints. He played in Finland briefly after the breakup the Soviet Union.

CB: Oleg Pashinin (Uzbekistan)
Pashinin played for FC Lokomotiv Moscow from 1992 to 2007 winning two Russian league titles. In 2001, he was sent on a loan to play for Sanfrecce Hiroshima for a half season in the J-League, which was then coached by Russian coach Valery Nepomnyashchy.  He helped the club to reach 3rd place at the second stage of the J-League. He was capped by Uzbekistan 12 times.

SW: Oleksiy Cherednyk (Tajikistan/USSR)
Born in Tajikistan of Ukrainian ethnicity while under the Soviet Union, Oleksiy Cherednyk represented the senior national team of the Soviet Union twice in 1989.  He made his debut against Bulgaria in 1989. He also won the Olympic Gold medal in 1988. At the club level, he played with Pamir Dushanbe and FC Dnipro in the Soviet Union, winning a Soviet league title in 1988.  From 1990-1993, he played with Southampton in England.  He returned to play in Ukraine in 1994 at the end of his career.
Oleksiy Cherednyk 
LB: Sergei Mandreko (Tajikistan/CIS)
Between 1990-1992,  he played for the Pamir Dushanbe, completing in the last two championships of the USSR (1990, 1991) and then in the championship of Tajikistan. In the summer of 1992, he moved Austrian Rapid Wien club in Austria, where he played until 1997. He also played with "Hertha Berlin and Bochum. Internationally,  he capped at senior level by CIS four times. He later also played for both Russia and Tajikistan.

LB: Vitaliy Denisov (Uzbekistan)
He is the son of Gennadi Denisov. In 2007-2013 he played for Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in Ukrainian Premier League. In 2013, he joined Lokomotiv Moscow, where he is still playing at the time of writing.  He was the Uzbekistan Player of the Year in 2013.  He was voted Best left-back of Russian Football Premier League in 2014.  He is capped 73 times for Uzbekistan.

CM: Mirjalol Qosimov (Uzbekistan)
Qosimov's club career was associated with Pakhtakor and Alania Vladikavkaz in Russia. He was the first Uzbekistani and the second Asian player to have scored in UEFA competitions. In 1995, he scored for Alania against Liverpool in the UEFA Cup. He was capped by the Soviet Union at the youth level.  From 1992 to 2005, he was capped 67 times for Uzbekistan winning the Gold Medal at the 1994 Asian Games.  He was Uzbekistan Player of the Year: in 1993, 1998, 2001 and 2004.
Mirjalol Qosimov
CM: Valeri Broshin (Turkmenistan/USSR)
During his career Valeri Broshin played for clubs such as FC Zenit Saint Petersburg and PFC CSKA Moscow. He earned 3 caps for the Soviet Union between 1987 and 1990, and participated in the 1990 FIFA World Cup finals. After the end of the Soviet Union, he received Turkmenistani citizenship in order to be eligible to play on the Turkmenistan national football team.  He earned 11 caps between 1997 and 1998.

CM Andrey Pyatnitsky (Uzbekistan/USSR/CIA/Russia)
Born in Uzbekistan, Andrey Pyatnitsky started his career with Pakhtakor Tashkent.  He played for  CSKA Moscow, Spartak Moscow and Sokol Saratov, both before and after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 1990, he played one match for the USSR. In 1992, he played for the CIS 5 times and then for the Uzbekistan twice. Then he played for Russia and was a participant at the 1994 FIFA World Cup

CM: Odil Ahmedov (Uzbekistan)
At time of writing, Odil Ahmedov has over 80 caps and led Uzbekistan to the semifinal of the 2010 Asian Cup.  From 2006 to 2010, Odil Ahmedov played for Pakhtakor at home.  After his stunning performance at the Asian Cup in 2010, he joined Anzhi Makhachkala in the Russian league, where he was their player of the year in 2011 ahead of teammate Samuel Eto'o and Yuri Zhirkov. He moved to FC Krasnodar before going to Shanghai SPIG in 2016. 
Odil Ahmedov
CM: Valery Kechinov (Uzbekistan/Russia)
Kechinov was born in Uzbekistan and started his professional career at local Pakhtakor in 1992, with whom he won the Uzbek League title, before moving to Spartak Moscow. , Kechinov won six Russian Premier League titles and one Cup. He then played for Saturn and Shinnik. He was Uzbekistan Footballer of the Year in 1992. Capped twice by Uzbekistan in 1992, but later switched to play for Russia.  

AM: Ruslan Baltiev (Kazakhstan)
Ruslan Baltiev started his career in FC Zhetysu in 1997 and moved to Kazakhstani club FC Kairat a year later.  In 2001, he moved to FC Sokol Saratov. in Russia before joining  FC Dinamo Moscow and FC Moscow.   He later played for FC Tobol and FC Zhemchuzhina-Sochi. He played 73 times for Kazakhstan.

AM: Server Djeparov (Uzbekistan)
Server Djeparov won the Asian Footballer of the Year twice in 2008 and 2011.  Since 2002, he played over a 100 times for Uzbekistan. He was the captain of the team that reached the semifinal of the 2011 Asian Cup.  From 2001 to 2007, he played for Pakhtakor before moving abroad.  He has played for FC Seoul and Seongnam FC in South Korea as well as clubs in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Kazakstan.  Server Djeparov is of Crimean Tatar and Russian descent and speaks fluent Russian.
Server Djeparov 
FW: Alexander Tarkhanov (Kazakhstan/USSR)
Born in Kazakhstan, he played for SKA-Khabarovsk while he was in the Soviet Army.  He moved to CSKA Moscow, where he played for 9 seasons and served as their captain for 4 years. From 1976 to 1983, he was capped 6 times.  He made his debut in 1976 against Argentina. He played in a 1982 FIFA World Cup qualifier, but was not selected for the final tournament squad.

ST: Berador Abduraimov (Uzbekistan/USSR)
Berador Abduraimov is regarded as one of the best strikers and greatest football players in the history of Uzbek football. He started his career in 1960 with Pakhtakor in the Soviet Top League. In 1962, when he was only 19, Abduraimov became the Soviet Top League top goalscorer with 22 goals and Pakhtakor finished 6th the season in the league.  In the same year he became Merited Master of Sport. He also played for Spartak Moscow, CSKA Moscow and Meliorator Yangiyer.  He played for the USSR at the youth level.

ST: Gennadi Krasnitsky (Uzbekistan/USSR)
Gennadi Krasnitsky was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan during the Soviet Union.  He played for his home town club Pakhtakor Tashkent, where he spent his entire career from 1960 to 1970. He became the first Uzbekistani player to score 100 goals in Soviet Top League to enter the Grigory Fedotov club. The club of top-scoring footballers in Uzbekistan is named after him - Gennadi Krasnitsky club, was founded in 2010. He was capped 3 times in 1961 for the Soviet Union.
Gennadi Krasnitsky
ST: Vladimir Fyodorov (Uzbekistan/USSR)
Born in Uzbekistan, he played for them between 1972 and 1979, making his debut as a teenager in 1972. He was one of the FC Pakhtakor Tashkent players killed in the 1979 Dniprodzerzhynsk mid-air collision. He was only 23 years old.  For the national team, he played 18 times. He won a brozen medal at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.

RW/ST: Sergey Kvochkin (Kazakhstan/USSR)
Sergey Kvochkin was selected as the best Kazakhstani footballer in the UEFA Jubilee Awards.  He spent his entire career with FC Kairat, where he played 232 matches in the Soviet league. In 1962, Kvochkin as a member of the USSR national team went on tour in Latin America, during which he managed to score the winning goal of the Brazilian Olympic team at the legendary stadium Maracana. 

ST: Maksim Shatskikh (Uzbekistan)
Maksim Shatskikh is a Uzbek international of Russian origin. He played for Dynamo Kyiv from 1999 to 2009. He is the all-time scorer of the Ukrainian Premier League with 124 goal.  On 28 July 1999, Shatskikh became the first Asian player to score in the UEFA Champions League. He had 61 caps for Uzbekistan and played in three AFC Asian Cups for Uzbekistan, helping them to fourth place in 2011.
Maksim Shatskikh
Honorable Mention
Mikhail An (Uzbekistan/USSR), Timur Kapadze (Uzbekistan), Alexander Geynrikh (Uzbekistan), Gennadi Denisov (Uzbekistan/USSR), Odil Ahmedov (Uzbekistan), Andrei Fyodorov (Uzbekistan), Fevzi Davletov (Uzbekistan), Igor Shkvyrin (Uzbekistan), Vladimir Maminov (Uzbekistan), Andrei Karpovich (Kazakhstan), Oleg Voskoboynikov(Kazakhstan), Aleksandr Khapsalis (Kazakhstan/USSR), Kuralbek Ordabayev (Kazakhstan/USSR), Vladimir Niederhaus (Kazakhstan/USSR), Yuriy Logvinenko (Kazakhstan), Sergo Kutivadze (Kazakhstan/USSR), Sergei Stukashov (Kazakhstan/USSR), Eduard Son (Kazakhstan/USSR), Edgar Gess (Tajikistan/USSR), Sergei Nikulin (Tajikistan/USSR), Oleksiy Cherednyk (Tajikistan/USSR), Oleg Shirinbekov (Tajikistan/USSR), Rashid Rakhimov (Tajikistan/Russia)

Squad Explanation
-- All Soviet players who were born in Soviet Central Asian were considered for this team.  I did not consider footballers who were not born in the area and played for clubs in the region. They must be born there.  
-- For players after the breakup the Soviet Union, only players who were capped by one of the Central Asian countries are considered.  
-- The selection procession was geared toward the Soviet Central Asian players who had played at the highest level under the Soviet Union. So there were a number of players who were capped by the Soviet Union. I did try to balance the team giving some preference toward some players who played for the independent republics. However, I cannot find any player from Kyrgyzstan. 
-- My Former Soviet Union without Ukraine and Russia excluded player from the Soviet Central Asia.  Yuri Pshenichnikov would have made that team.
-- Ethnicity is not a consideration for this team.  Most players selected are European Slavs. 
-- Intially, I do not know if this team should be Central Asia or the formerly Soviet Central Asia.  Afghanistan was the only country, not in the Soviet Union, but since, no player from them is considered for this team,  They are irrelevant to this team.
-- Andrey Pyatnitsky had played for Uzbekistan, despite going to the WC Finals with Russia in 1994. He was born in Uzbekistan too.
-- Andrei Yakubik was a Moscow-born ethnic Russian who played for Pakhtakor.  He is ineligible. Berador Abduraimov on the other hand was born in Uzbekistan.
 -- Igor Shkvyrin helped Uzbekistan to win the Gold Medal at the 1994 Asian Games, but I selected more experienced players from the Soviet era over him.
-- Valeri Broshin was born in Leningrad, but he chose to play for Turkmenistan.  He is the only player from this team who went to a World Cup Finals.
-- Andrey Pyatnitsky and Valery Kechinov were capped by Russia, but they also earned caps for Uzbekistan.  So they are eligible.
-- Berador Abduraimov was never capped by Uzbekistan or the Soviet Union, but he was regarded one of the greatest Uzbek player.  Sergey Kvochkin also never played for Kazakhstan or USSR, but he was Kazakhstan's selection for the UEFA Jubilee Awards.  Both players were born in the region under the Soviet Union, which made them eligible.
-- Vassilis Hatzipanagis was a Greek player who was born in Uzbekistan under Soviet Union.  He had played for the youth national team for the USSR.  I omitted him for this team because he is considered the greatest ever Greek player although he cap-tied to the Soviet Union and was not allowed to play in an official game for Greece. He only played twice for Greece in unofficial games.  He was Greece's selection for UEFA Jubilee Awards in 2004. He was probably the greatest player ever born in Central Asia.
-- Valeri Broshin and Andrey Pyatnitsky are the only players who went to the World Cup Finals 
-- Eduard Son and Mikhail Son are of Korean ethnicity. They are on my honourable mention.


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