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Season review: Bulgaria

Published: Wednesday 26 May 2010, 13.55CET
The traditional Sofia giants drew a blank this season, with PFC Litex Lovech taking their third Bulgarian title, while PFC Beroe Stara Zagora won their first Bulgarian Cup.
by Stoyan Georgiev
from Sofia
Season review: Bulgaria
Litex relax after winning their third Bulgarian title ©Meridian Match
Published: Wednesday 26 May 2010, 13.55CET

Season review: Bulgaria

The traditional Sofia giants drew a blank this season, with PFC Litex Lovech taking their third Bulgarian title, while PFC Beroe Stara Zagora won their first Bulgarian Cup.

PFC Litex Lovech recovered from the departure of national-team coach Stanimir Stoilov in late August to claim a third Bulgarian crown, Angel Chervenkov guiding them to glory ahead of traditional giants PFC CSKA Sofia and PFC Levski Sofia.

Champions: PFC Litex Lovech
Having secured the title with a 3-0 win at PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv, Litex could afford to go into cruise control for the final two games of the season as they added to the pair of championships they won in 1998 and 1999. No one could argue that they were worth their place at the top; they scored more (59) and conceded fewer (17) than any other side, and boasted the best records at home and away, as well as the league's 19-goal top scorer, French striker Wilfried Niflore.

Cup final: PFC Chernomorets Pomorie 0-1 PFC Beroe Stara Zagora
Beaten in four finals in the 1960s and 1970s, Beroe finally got their hands on the Bulgarian Cup, with Doncho Atanasov scoring the only goal in the last minute against their second-tier opponents. The Stara Zagora side had previously won the league title in 1986 and four editions of the now-defunct Balkan Cup.

European places*
PFC Litex Lovech – UEFA Champions League second qualifying round
PFC Beroe Stara Zagora – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
PFC CSKA Sofia – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
PFC Levski Sofia – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the Year: Ivelin Popov (PFC Litex Lovech)
The 22-year-old Litex captain missed most of the first half of the season with a foot injury but made up for lost time with six goals in 14 league games later on, powering his side to the title and being named Player of the Year following a vote from his fellow professionals. He also scored for Bulgaria in a 19 May friendly against Belgium.

One to watch: Doca Madureira (PFC Litex Lovech)
With CSKA and Levski in turmoil for much of the season, new talent was hard to come by, but 26-year-old Brazilian Doca made his name, scoring six times in 26 league games and dazzling on the wing. Almost as influential as the brilliant Popov.

Surprise package: PFC Chernomorets Burgas
Beroe and PFC Minior Pernik had unexpectedly promising spells, but not quite as impressive as Krasimir Balakov's Sharks who topped the table after eight games before a dip in form saw something like the normal order return. Nonetheless, they gained a creditable fifth-placed finish with a last-day 2-0 win against CSKA.

Leading scorer: Wilfried Niflore, PFC Litex Lovech (19)

Relegated: PFC Lokomotov Mezdra, FC Sportist Svoge, PFC Botev Plovdiv

Promoted: PFC Kaliakra Kavarna, PFC Vidima-Rakovski, PFC Akademik Sofia

Number: 1,095
The number of minutes Litex went without conceding at home in a 12-match spell

Quote
"CSKA Sofia and Levski Sofia are in crisis so they should come together. This merger would improve the standard of the league."
Bulgarian legend Dimitar Penev drily suggests an unlikely solution to the crises that beset Sofia's big two this season

Last updated: 01/06/10 18.56CET

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