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Season review: Bulgaria

Published: Tuesday 14 June 2011, 9.04CET
PFC Litex Lovech won a fourth league title by successfully defending the championship for the second time in their history while PFC CSKA Sofia lifted the Bulgarian Cup.
by Stoyan Georgiev
from Sofia
Season review: Bulgaria
Garra Dembélé caught the eye in 2010/11 scoring 26 league goals ©Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 14 June 2011, 9.04CET

Season review: Bulgaria

PFC Litex Lovech won a fourth league title by successfully defending the championship for the second time in their history while PFC CSKA Sofia lifted the Bulgarian Cup.

PFC Litex Lovech lifted the Bulgarian title for the second successive season and a fourth time in their history, while PFC CSKA Sofia claimed their first silverware in three years, defeating city rivals PFC Slavia Sofia to win the Bulgarian Cup.

Champions: PFC Litex Lovech

Having also won back-to-back titles in 1998 and 1999, Litex completed a second title defence, though their campaign got off to a shaky start, with 2010 title-winning coach Angel Chervenkov leaving after just one league game, and star player Ivelin Popov heading off to join Turkish side Gaziantepspor. However, former Bulgarian international Luboslav Penev steadied the ship, with Brazilian Doka Madureira and 32-year-old striker Svetoslav Todorov scoring 20 between them and the club going unbeaten in the league until May. "This is an incredible achievement for me," said Todorov. "I have been in the squad for all four of the club's triumphs [1998, 1999, 2010, 2011] and it is a great feeling."

Cup final: PFC CSKA Sofia 1-0 PFC Slavia Sofia
PFC CSKA Sofia won their first major silverware since lifting the league title in 2008. Rising star Spas Delev struck six minutes before the break to become the first CSKA player to score in every match of a cup campaign and earn his side their tenth Bulgarian Cup. "The cup means a lot for the club," said CSKA coach Milen Radukanov. "This cup is a fitting reward for all of us."

European places
PFC Litex Lovech  – UEFA Champions league second qualifying round
PFC CSKA Sofia – UEFA Europa League play-off round
PFC Levski Sofia – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
PFC Lokomotiv Sofia – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round

Player of the year: Doka Madureira (PFC Litex Lovech)
Brazilian wing wizard Doka Madureira won the player's player of the year award to ensure that the prize was claimed by a Litex player for the second year running; Ivelin Polov won the accolade 12 months ago. There is little doubt that the 26-year-old deserved it; he was a constant menace for defences during the season, scoring 12 goals in 22 league games and contributing six assists. Turkey's İstanbul BB SK were certainly impressed and signed him at the end of June.

One to watch: Garra Dembélé (PFC Levski Sofia)
The French-born Malian forward scored an incredible 26 goals in 24 league games, including four hat-tricks, and also found the net eight times in 12 UEFA Europa League games. Dembélé's great pace, speed, power, skill and composure in front of goal were a revelation and the 25-year-old's departure to join Bundesliga side SC Freiburg will be sorely felt by Levski.

Surprise package: PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv 1936
Both Lokomotiv teams – PFC Lokomotiv Sofia and PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv 1936 – finished in the top five, but the latter caused the biggest stir. Plovdiv fought for survival last term, but experienced players like Zdravko Lazarov and Hristo Zalatinski gelled well with some new additions and spurred them on to a fifth-placed finish. Highlights of their season included a first win in 25 years at PFC Levski Sofia and a memorable 4-1 defeat of PFC CSKA Sofia in May.

Leading scorer: Garra Dembélé, PFC Levski Sofia (26)

Number: 13
Litex became the first team outside the capital to register 13 consecutive league wins.

Relegated: OFC Sliven 2000, PFC Akademik Sofia, PFC Pirin Blagoevgrad
(Pirin avoided the drop but were not awarded a licence for 2011/12)

Promoted: PFC Ludogorets 1946 Razgrad, PFC Botev Vratsa, PFC Svetkavista Turgovishte

"If I score a hat-trick against CSKA Sofia, I will dance naked on pitch. I will even skip my birthday party to be fully fit for the game."
Levski striker Garra Dembélé was in party mood before February's Sofia derby; a 3-1 defeat spared fans his promised striptease

Last updated: 08/07/11 16.40CET