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Season review: Bulgaria

Published: Monday 15 June 2009, 13.42CET
The 2008/09 season ended with PFC Levski Sofia holding off PFC CSKA Sofia to claim their 26th league title but it was also a memorable year for PFC Lokomotiv Sofia strike Martin Kamburov and cup winners PFC Litex Lovech.
by Stoyan Georgiev
from Sofia
Season review: Bulgaria
Levski celebrate winning the Bulgarian title ©Meridian Match
Published: Monday 15 June 2009, 13.42CET

Season review: Bulgaria

The 2008/09 season ended with PFC Levski Sofia holding off PFC CSKA Sofia to claim their 26th league title but it was also a memorable year for PFC Lokomotiv Sofia strike Martin Kamburov and cup winners PFC Litex Lovech.

The 2008/09 campaign went by the pre-season formbook, with PFC Levski Sofia holding off PFC CSKA Sofia to claim their 26th league title, while PFC Vihren Sandanski, PFC Spartak Varna and PFC Belasitsa Petrich were all relegated.

Champions: PFC Levski Sofia
Under Stanimir Stoilov, it was suggested that PFC Litex Lovech might liven up the traditional two-horse race between Levski and CSKA for the title, but their hopes faded early as they dropped points against lower-ranking sides. CSKA held the whip hand for much of the season, kicking off the spring campaign with ten straight wins under new coach Luboslav Penev, but a 2-0 defeat by Levski on 9 May turned the tables and the Blues went on to claim the title 22 days later.

Cup final: PFC Pirin Blagoevgrad PFC 0-3 PFC Litex Lovech
Litex's fourth cup success proved comfortable enough. French striker Wilfried Niflore opened the scoring in the final after just 20 minutes before Brazilian Doca Madureira (72) and Krum Bibishkov (86) removed any doubt. "The real work starts now," said Litex coach Stoilov after the game. "There was pressure on us to lift the trophy and qualify again for the European competitions."

European places
Levski – UEFA Champions League second qualifying round
Litex – UEFA Europa League play-off round
CSKA – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
PFC Cherno More Varna – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round

Player of the Year: Martin Kamburov (PFC Lokomotiv Sofia)
A PFG top scorer for the third time in his career, Kamburov's achievement was all the more remarkable since he only joined Lokomotiv from Greek side FC Asteras Tripolis at the winter break, scoring 17 goals in 15 league games. Voted Player of the Year by his fellow professionals, he reached peak form with a hat-trick in the 3-0 win over Levski on 11 April.

One to watch: Spas Delev (PFC Pirin Blagoevgrad)
Just 19, Delev's goals helped propel Pirin to the Bulgarian Cup final, and while their 3-0 defeat against Litex in the showcase game denied them a European place, the Bulgarian Young Player of the Year may yet get a chance to shine in the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Europa League, with CSKA and Levski both monitoring the Under-21 international.

Surprise package: PFC Cherno More Varna
The Sailors finished third to earn only their second appearance in UEFA club competition, having made their UEFA Cup debut in 2008/09. Nikola Spasov's men relied on the experience of Bulgarian internationals Alexander Alexandrov and Milen Petkov, and their home form was formidable, as they conceded just two goals in 15 games, losing only once.

Leading scorer: Martin Kamburov, PFC Lokomotiv Sofia (17)

Number: 2,700
The number of minutes that CSKA defender Ivan Ivanov played this season. He was the only player not to miss a single minute of the 30-game league programme.

Quote
"The hardest time for us was waiting for the league game against CSKA Sofia. After the derby win our performances improved and we achieved our targets."
Levski coach Emil Velev explains how derby success spurred his side to the title.

Last updated: 15/06/09 14.54CET

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