Preview: Moldova vs Kazakhstan – prediction, team news, line-ups
Sports Mole previews Thursday’s Nations League clash between Moldova and Kazakhstan, including predictions, team news and possible line-ups.
To decide their UEFA Nations League out for the 2022-23 season, international minnows Moldova and Kazakhstan see you on Thursday in Chisinau.
The competition’s first two-legged ‘play-outs’ will select which nation will remain in League C and which will be relegated to the lower tier of Europe.
With League C making up four groups while League D only has two, the two teams to be relegated are expected to be determined over the next week.
While the Faroe Islands and Gibraltar have already been promoted from League D, Moldova – the fourth-placed team among the entrants – will face the quartet’s first-placed team, Kazakhstan.
Ranked 181st in the world, Moldova recently finished bottom of Group F qualification for the upcoming Qatar 2022 World Cup, with just one point to show from their 10 games – ending their miserable campaign with a 4-1 defeat in Austria last November.
Under the old coach Roberto Bordin, they only managed to score five goals in qualifying and conceded 30; shipping eight to Denmark this time last year.
Indeed, Moldova are involved in these two decisive matches as they also finished bottom of their Nations League group, in which they picked up only one point.
That came from a draw with the Faroes almost 12 months ago, which represents the last time the Eastern European state avoided defeat.
Ranked 120th in the world pecking order, Kazakhstan start the encounter as the pundits’ pick to retain League C status, having performed better than their Moldovan counterparts in recent months.
Despite finishing bottom of Group 4, the Hawks managed to beat Lithuania and held group winners Albania to a goalless draw in Almaty before enduring a difficult qualifying process for the World Cup.
Although they ultimately ended their campaign without a win, the Kazakhs drew at least twice with Euro 2020 quarter-finalists Ukraine and scored an equalizer in stoppage time to snatch the point against Bosnia and Herzegovina last September.
Weak spots, however, included an 8-0 thrashing by France and back-to-back home defeats to Bosnia and Finland – and their last competitive victory was in September 2020.
Coach Andrei Karpovich led his side to a 1-0 friendly win over Tajikistan the last time they took to the pitch, so they will be hoping they can continue that run until 2022 when they start that tie in the rare position of favourites.
Moldova Nations League form:
Form of Moldova (all competitions):
Kazakhstan League of Nations form:
Form of Kazakhstan (all competitions):
Moldova have called up a squad of four potential starters, but their most experienced players are still available for Thursday’s first leg.
Scorer of the hosts’ last competitive goal, Maccabi striker Petah Tikva Ion Nicolaescu should therefore start at the front alongside Radu Ginsariwho is the team’s top scorer with seven international goals to his name.
In a probable three-man midfield, the Bénévent midfielder Arthur Ionita is ready to pull the strings, having compiled 61 caps and three goals so far.
Meanwhile, CSKA Moscow Bakhtiyar Zaynutdinov is Kazakhstan’s top international scorer, with nine goals to his name in 21 appearances. The 23-year-old striker is expected to lead for the visitors, having scored the only goal in a friendly win against Tajikistan last time out.
Another Russian Premier League player, Alexei Shchyotkin of Rotor Volgograd, is also about to start in attack.
Possible starting line-up from Moldova:
Namasco; Armas, Posmac, Bolohan; Jardan, Rata, Dros, Ionita, Reabciuk; Ginsari, Nicolaescu
Possible starting lineup from Kazakhstan:
Pokalitov; Logvinenko, Alip, Maliy; Bystrov, Kuat, Joukov, Vasiliev, Vorogovskiy; Shchyotkin, Zaynutdinov
We say: Moldova 0-1 Kazakhstan
Neither side is used to winning even in the modest surroundings of League C, so the first leg could well be a matter of attrition decided by a single goal.
The visitors are in the best position to take the lead for next Tuesday’s return, given their better ranking and past results against some of Europe’s mid-tier nations.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 2.5 goals in this game. Click here to find out what else they predict for this game and for more of their proven football tips.Under 2.5: data