Kazakhstan vs Scotland – Betting Tips & Predictions – 21/03

Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021


 

With a place in the Nations League C playoffs already under their belts, Scotland begin their work on another potential path to the European Championship finals with their first group game against Kazakhstan in Astana this afternoon. Alex McLeish’s side topped a Nations League group containing Israel and Albania, so they’re no strangers to long journeys in this qualification cycle – but this fixture could still be a banana skin for the Tartan Army.

Kazakhstan are playing their first fixture under the management of former Czech international Michal Bilek. The journeyman coach has, at the age of 51, a surprisingly long list of managerial jobs behind him, most recently with Zlin in his native country. This makes it hard to be sure how well he can get the Kazakh side to gel in his debut fixture, so Scotland would be best advised to play their own game and seek to put the game to bed as early as possible.

Kazakhstan vs Scotland Prediction: Kazakhstan 1-2 Scotland

With a number of current and former Celtic players in the squad, the Astana Stadium will not be as unfamiliar a ground for the Scottish squad as it might ordinarily be. The long journey will be old news to any of the squad who have taken part in the early qualifying rounds of European club competition, and that familiarity may help Scotland avoid red faces against a side who, on paper, they should be beating comfortably. That said, the history of Scottish international football is littered with poor results against sides worse than Kazakhstan, so the visitors would be more than happy with any win – and should get one here.

Our recommended tip: Draw/Scotland HT/FT

Spring may have sprung in the UK, but the days leading up to this fixture have seen sub-zero temperatures in the former Soviet republic, although by kick-off here the mercury should have edged its way up to a balmy two degrees Celsius. Conditions won’t be ideal for the fast play expected from a side that relies on the pace of James Forrest to create chances. As such, we may see an attritional confrontation where Scotland rely on a snatched late winner – so the odds of 17/5 from William Hill for the visitors to pick up a win after being level at half time certainly look tempting.

Previous matches

Although the 8,000-mile round trip to Astana and back will be familiar to more than a few of the Scottish players, it’s not one the national side has made before as a group. In fact, this is the first-ever meeting between these sides – unsurprising when you recognise that Kazakhstan played under the Asian confederation from their independence in 1991 until 2002. James Forrest, Callum McGregor, Kieran Tierney and Scott Armstrong were part of a Celtic side that lost 4-3 to FC Astana here in 2017 – although that result still saw them progress in the Champions League thanks to a 5-0 first-leg win in Glasgow.

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Players to watch: Yerkebulan Seidakhamet & James Forrest

At the age of 19, Seidakhamet is a potential breakthrough star, his slight frame and excellent dribbling skills having earned him the nickname of “the Kazakh Messi”. While that is definitely a hyperbolic tag, he certainly appears to have the talent to rise to greater prominence than any Kazakh player before him, and has got his international career off to a solid start with goals against Andorra and in a 3-2 win over Hungary on his debut with the “Hawks”. On loan at Levski Sofia from Russian club FC Ufa, he’s one to keep an eye on.

Forrest, for his part, has been at the top of Scottish football for so long that it’s hard to believe he’s still just 27. After some long spells of injury he’s settled to become an indispensable part of the side for both Celtic and the national team, and while a goal tally of just five for Scotland may not seem impressive, it’s worth noting that those five came in the last two games – a double in Albania followed by a hat-trick against Israel. His low centre of gravity and searing pace will be indispensable to the visitors here.

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