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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Almaty could fall to heavy qualifying defeat in Alkmaar

AZ should readily overturn first-leg deficit

AZ Alkmaar manager John van den Brom
1 of 1

Europa League second qualifying round
Thursday 7.45pm
Kairat Almaty’s hopes of making the group stage of a Uefa competition for the first time in their history were boosted after victory at home to AZ Alkmaar but they could struggle in the away leg of their Europa League qualifier.

The Kazakhstan outfit will travel over 6,000km for the second leg and it could be a miserable journey home should they relinquish their 2-0 advantage.

Kairat Almaty mustered just 25 per cent possession in the first leg and made over 400 passes fewer than AZ at the Ortaliq Stadion but secured victory courtesy of a brace from Aderinsola Habib Eseola.

AZ have qualified for the group stage of the Europa League in three of the last five seasons and reached the quarter-finals of the competition in 2012 and 2014.

The loss of key forward Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who finished as the Eredivisie's top scorer with 21 goals last term, has hampered them in the final third but they nonetheless have superior experience and quality to their Kazakhstan counterparts and are capable of overturning the first-leg deficit.

Ex-Arsenal forward Andrey Arshavin is the most notable name in the Kairat contingent and, plying their trade in a country 14 places below Holland in Uefa’s coefficient rankings, the gulf in class could show against the Dutch side.

AZ Alkmaar -2 on handicap
1pt 10-3 Betfred

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AZ have qualified for the group stage of the Europa League in three of the last five seasons
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