Group D: Bulgaria          Castellano   Page 2

Argentina  2

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Belgium  2

Brazil  2

Bulgaria  2

Cameroon

Chile  2

Colombia

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France  2

Germany  2

Iran

Italy  2

Jamaica

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Nigeria

Norway  2

Paraguay

Romania

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Yugoslavia  2

  Union Bulgare de Football 

Coach: Hristo BONEV.

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vs. PARAGUAY

12.06.98 Montpellier

vs.NIGERIA

19.06.98 Paris

vs.ESPAÑA

24.06.98 Lens

Team Colors: White, Green and Red pants

Confederation: UEFA

7th appearance in World Cup finals

Finished 4th in 1994 World Cup in USA

Reached quarter-finals of 1968 European Championships

Reached finals of European Championships in 1996

Key players: F Daniel Borimirov (1860 Munich, Germany),

M Krassimir Balakov (Stuttgart, Germany),

F Hristo Stoichkov (Barcelona, Spain),

F Lyuboslav Penev (Compostela, Spain).

®CnnSi

Hristo Stoichkov

Keep an Eye on: Hristo Stoichkov:Petulant, arrogant, aggressive, outspokenand, above all, wonderfully gifted, theBarcelona forward is still tremendous.

Luboslav Penev: Big striker, still guaranteed a place although his uncle is no longer coach.

Yordan Letchkov: Remains capable of matching his winning goal in the 1994 quarter-final.

Analysis: Bulgaria's has been a tale of steady decline over the past four years, but with players of international quality still playing at the top level, they may surprise a few people in France. Nevertheless, without fresh and young legs they won't be threatening to win the ultimate prize.

Stoichkov carried the team to the semifinals in '94, but it might be too much to ask from him again on an otherwise unspectacular though hard-working team.

History: Bulgaria plays a mostly defensive, almost unimaginative soccer. In England 66, Brazil's Pelé was hunted by the Bulgarians with a physical and tortuous game. His marker Zhetchev apparantly was given free reign by the referee that afternoon to demonstrate a negative defense which kept the Brazilian from the subsequent encounter.

Prior to USA 94, Bulgaria took part in five World Cup final tournaments (1962, '66, '70, '74, '86) without managing a single victory (6 draws, 10 defeats). In 1994, having qualifed by beating France in Paris 2-1, Bulgaria finished fourth, shocking Germany 2-1 in the quarter-finals in the process.

In 1996, Bulgaria reached the final stages of the European Championships for the first time, but failed to rediscover their form of 1994. Coach Dimitar Penev was subsequently replaced by Hristo Bonev. The new coach took a broom to the squad in a bid to sweep out the aging stars of USA 94. The team's star player, Hristo Stoichkov, objected to the changes and refused to play in Bulgaria's opening qualifiers for France 98.

CSKA Sofia have proved to be the country's most successful club. They reached the semi-finals of the European Champions Cup in 1967 and 1982, and the European Cup Winners Cup semi-finals in 1989. However, most of the country's leading players represent richer foreign clubs. Despite Bonev's attempts to rejuvenate the squad, Bulgaria arrive in France with a squad that still revolves around veterans Stoichkov, Trifon Ivanov, Yordan Lechkov and Emil Kostadinov.

One of the oldest teams in the finals, Bulgaria have relied on experience to get them to France next summer. But now they find themselves in the toughest group, will Father Time catch up with them? Dimitar Penev was dismissed as their coach after an ignominious Euro '96 campaign but essentially Bulgaria are still his team, relying on the defensive qualities of Trifon Ivanov, 32, and Zlatko Jankov, 31, and the attacking spirit of Hristo Stoichkov, 31, and Emil Kostadinov, a spring chicken at 30.

Add to that Ginchev, Yankov, Kiriakov, Borimov, Penev, Lechkov, Balakov and Jordanov - all of whom are around the 30 mark - and Hristo Bonev, the new coach, has not so much a team but a pensioners' outing.

Trivia for the Pub: Every player in the team and even the coach has a last name ending in the letter V.

®Cnnsi

Stoichkov: everything you hear ...and more.

Links:

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Bulgarian Football: Latest Scores and Tables

POSITION NAME AGE CAPS

G Borislav Mihailov 34 101

G Zdravko Zdravkov 27 12  

G Dimitar Popov 27 14

D Radostin Kishishev 23 19

D Trifon Ivanov 32 71

D Gosho Ginchev 28 13

D Milen Petkov 23 6

D Ivailo Petkov 21 6  

D Adalbert Zafirov 29 2

M Zlatko Yankov 31 64

M Ivailo Yordanov 29 35

M Yordan Lechkov 30 44

M Krasimir Balakov 31 63

M Daniel Borimirov 27 35

M Anatoli Nankov 28 9

M Ilia Gruev 28 1

F Hristo Stoichkov 32 68

F Emil Kostadinov 30 65

F Lyuboslav Penev 31 56

F Ilian Iliev 29 12

F Georgi Ivanov 21 2

F Georgi Bachev 22 3

F Hristo Yovov 20 0

F Marian Hristov 24 7

F Georgi Donkov 27 7  

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