Kazakhstan - Republic of Ireland Preview: Boys in Green make long-haul trip in search of a winning start

Giovanni Trapattoni's troops kick off their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign with a trip to Astana to face Kazakhstan for the first time in history

Kirov, Rozhov, Mukhtarov, Schmidtgal
Ost'enko, Nurd'ov, Kony'ev, Kukeev, Engel


O'Shea, St Ledger, O'Dea, Ward
McGeady, Whelan, McCarthy, Cox
Walters, Keane

Kazakhstan boss Miroslav Berenek is expected to field a 4-5-1 formation against Ireland, with the tall striker Sergei Gridin leading the attack, and former Royal Antwerp forward Sergei Ostapenko starting on the right side of midfield.

Berenek will be without the experienced midfielder Andrei Karpovich, while the Russia-based Aleksei Popov and Kazbek Geteriev are unavailable.

Ireland are without the familiar faces of Shay Given and Damien Duff, who have both taken the decision to retire from international football, while Aston Villa defender Richard Dunne is injured for the fixture.

Giovanni Trapattoni hinted earlier this week that Stoke City striker Jonathan Walters would partner Robbie Keane in attack, while Simon Cox is set to start at left wing instead of Sunderland winger James McClean, who is suffering from a sore throat.

It is great that you can watch the Ireland games live in the UK, because for exiled Irish fans, it is hard to find somewhere that covers games. So make sure to watch Ireland take on Kazakhstan on Goal.com.

  • Kazakhstan only joined Uefa in 2002, after previously being part of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), when the Kazakh Football Federation deemed that the association would be better served as part of European confederation.
  • All but two of Kazakhstan's current squad ply their trade in Kazakhstan, with Konstantin Engel and Heinrich Shmidtgal playing in Germany for Energie Cottbus and Greuther Furth respectively.
  • The home of the Kazakhstan national team is the Astana Arena, a 30,000 capacity stadium with an artificial surface.
  • Astana is five time zones away from Ireland and the Irish team must travel just over 3,000 miles in order to play in this fixture.
  • Ireland have never played Kazakhstan in senior international football, but Irish team St Patrick's Athletic recently made the trip to Kazakhstan in the Europa League, when they faced FC Shakhter Kargandy in the Uefa Europa League Second Qualifying round in 2011.
  • Ireland captain Robbie Keane is just five appearances away from equalling Shay Given's record of 125 caps.