My first day in Bishkek coincided with Match Day 10 of the Kyrgyzstan Premier League but it was too short notice to get anything arranged and anyway there is a company paying for me to do other, non football stuff so it was only polite to put in an appearance there and show them I’m a real person and not some random guy they had been emailing for the last couple of weeks.
On the pitch Dordoi Bishkek comfortably brushed aside Kaganat 8-1 to cement their place at the top of the table while runners up Alga edged Kara Balta 2-1 to stay three points behind the leaders. Dordoi, owned by a local conglomerate with interests in retail among other businesses had only been founded in 1997 and had won the league a record 11 times and the last nine years have seen them and Alay (a team from the southern city of Osh) share the title among themselves.
Traditionally football has never been a major draw in Kyrgyzstan. During the Soviet era the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic and the Turkmen SSR were the only regions not to have been represented in the Soviet Top League and today with funds tight better players from around the region are attracted to the wealthier clubs in neighbouring Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan domestic league crowds tend to be counted in the hundreds rather than the thousands though there has been greater interest in the national team in recent years.
The 2020 Kyrgyzstan Premier League kicked off in March but was halted by the coronavirus after only a round and a half. It wasn’t until five months later that the remaining two league games were played to complete Match Day 2. Because of the pandemic the league was centralised with games being played in the town of Kant, perhaps a 45 minute drive east of the capital, and no spectators allowed in.
Dordoi’s mauling of Kaganat gives the comfort of a substantial goal difference going into the final four Match Days and they will be particularly wary of third place Abdish Ata who have home town advantage and a confidence building six game unbeaten run behind them. First meets third next week and a victory for Abdish Ata would really throw open the title race with Alga also waiting for the leaders to slip up.