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Bishkek: The President of the Football Federation of Kyrgyz Republic (FFKR) Semetei Sultanov has praised the new format being used by the Asian Football Confederation during the on-going Russia 2018/UAE 2019 joint qualifiers.

Kyrgyzstan beat Jordan 1-0 in their latest qualifying fixture last week, having drawn against them in September’s game away from home. In the latest FIFA ranking, Jordan are 82nd, while Kyrgyzstan are 124th – a remarkable leap of 22 places since the previous ranking.

President Sultanov told the “Changing the format of the FIFA World Cup and the AFC Asian Cup Qualifying Competitions was an excellent, top decision by President Shaikh Salman and the AFC Executive Committee. Now everyone is equal and there is an opportunity to play with the big teams. That means development and it has helped us so much.

“Thanks to the team’s success against big opponents, we are getting noticed more: by the government, the media and the fans, and there is renewed interest in our players by foreign clubs. Our home match against Australia was sold out and there were about two thousand fans cheering the team on outside the stadium. Our fans had missed the big matches and now they have them, thanks to the format change.

“Everyone sees our improved results, and not just the results but the way we play. We had been sleeping for a long time when everyone was working. So it was time to get back into the race.”