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Penev leaves CSKA

PFC CSKA Sofia forward Luboslav Penev has been released and joined PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv.

One of the greatest PFC CSKA Sofia forwards of all time – Luboslav Penev - has been released and joined PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv.

Return to Bulgaria
Penev, who has scored more than 80 goals for the club, returned to Bulgaria last summer together with former team-mate Yordan Lechkov, and helped CSKA win their 29th league title.

Simoni reveals long-term strategy
Both players have been released because CSKA's Italian coach Luigi Simoni admits that he will not be able to lead CSKA to league success this season and instead wants to build a long-term strategy to revamp the Bulgarian giants.

No despair
"When I arrived here, I though that I was a very good coach and that I could solve all the problems that the team had," Simoni said. "However, it seems as though I am not that good. Even if we do not win a trophy this season, I will not despair and leave Bulgaria. I already have a long-term plan and can guarantee that CSKA will look very different in the next seasons."

New leaders needed
"It is true that the gap between [PFC] Levski [Sofia] and us is very big and that our results in the last few games are tragic," Simoni added. "But I do not think that this is a reason to replace all the players in the team. I believe in all of them, but we need a new leader after I let Lubo Penev and Yordan Lechkov go."

High expectations
Expectations were high when Simoni arrived at CSKA on a two-and-a-half year contract earlier this season. However since his arrival CSKA have slipped from three points off the top of the table to 13, although now that the top six groups have formed a championship group this deficit has been cut to seven. If winning the league title looks too tall an order for CSKA there is at least still hope of success in the Bulgarian Cup, with a semi-final against PFC Litex Lovech fast approaching.

"I want to play football"
Meanwhile, when asked about his departure, Penev said: "I returned from retirement to help CSKA. However, Luigi Simoni told me he did not need me. I want to play football, why not do it with Lokomotiv  Plovdiv?"

Twist of fate
In a twist of fate, CSKA's first match in the play-off stage of the championship is against Plovdiv on Saturday. Plovdiv coach Dimitar Dimitrov has said that Penev will be in the first eleven for the match. As well as CSKA, the forward has also appeared for Valencia CF, Club Atlético de Madrid, SD Compostela and RC Celta de Vigo in Spain in a varied playing career.