Twice denied famous European results in the past, coach Nikola Spasov is hoping "luck will be on our side this time" as PFC Cherno More Varna seek an improbable success against PSV Eindhoven.
When Dirk Marcellis scored deep into added time to snatch a 1-0 win at home for PSV last Thursday, it seemed like history was repeating for Bulgarian side. In the 2007 UEFA Intertoto Cup, Cherno More held UC Sampdoria at 0-0 at home until conceding a late winner, while last season a late Mario Gómez goal denied them a 2-1 win at VfB Stuttgart.
"Maybe luck will be on our side this time," 51-year-old coach Nikola Spasov told uefa.com. "I've often wondered why we concede so late. Usually we play well in return legs and, to be honest, we knew nothing specific about PSV ahead of the first leg. Now we have a clear idea about our opponents. We are at home and hope to cause them problems."
The former striker was philosophical about the defeat in Eindhoven, saying: "Our goalkeeper Ilko Pirgov made some unbelievable saves, but you need even something more to take something away at PSV. They are a great side, former European champions. We still have a chance to go through, but we will need some superhuman performances and some luck."
Cherno More earned a terrific third-placed finish in Bulgaria last season, with many attributing their success to Spasov's acumen in signing experienced professionals like Aleksandar Alexandrov, Georgi Iliev, Atanas Bornosuzov and Milen Petkov. "A coach can only shout from the sidelines; leaders on the pitch can really change things," he said.
Spasov has also benefitted enormously from a settled position with the Morqcite (Sailors), having been in charge since 2007. "It is rare in Bulgaria for coach to stay at one club for as long as two years," he conceded. "Maybe that's because of the respect between the players and me. Everybody wants to improve and gives his best."
He also feels that he learned a lot from playing in Portugal with the likes of FC Paços de Ferreira and SC Beira-Mar. "I learned a lot from my stay in Portugal," he said. "I know I have to be more calm. As I player I was a firebrand and had problems with referees and coaches. I have changed over the years and that helps a lot on the bench."
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