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By Angel Krasimirov
SOFIA, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Former Ludogorets and Levski Sofia boss Georgi Dermendzhiev is set to be appointed as the new head coach of Bulgaria, the vice-president of the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) said on Monday.
The 64-year-old Dermendzhiev will replace Krasimir Balakov, who resigned a few days after a 6-0 defeat by England last Monday when some supporters taunted the visitors with Nazi salutes and monkey chants, prompting match officials to halt the game twice.
BFU vice-president Yordan Letchkov said that Dermendzhiev would sign his contract on Tuesday.
Winless Bulgaria are bottom of Group A in the Euro 2020 qualifying stage with three points from seven matches. Dermendzhiev, however, expressed optimism he could turn around the fortunes of the team.
“Bulgaria are not the only team that is losing matches,” Dermendzhiev told local media. “The important thing now is to work hard and do our best to raise the level.”
Dermendzhiev led Ludogorets to three consecutive Bulgarian league titles between 2015 and 2017. His side became the first Bulgarian team to register a Champions League group stage victory when they beat Switzerland’s Basel in 2014.
“Regardless of the recent results, I see some spark,” said Dermendzhiev. “I believe we have a chance to qualify for a major championship. This is our goal.”
Bulgaria have failed to reach the finals of a major championship since Euro 2004 in Portugal.
“I am aware of the current situation. It won’t be easy, but we will fight. Whoever is afraid of bears should not walk in the forest,” he added.
Dermendzhiev will make his debut as Bulgaria coach in the international friendly against Haiti next month, a few days before their final group match against the Czech Republic. (Reporting by Angel Krasimirov Editing by Christian Radnedge)