December 17, 2014 / 5:47 PM / 3 years ago

Soccer-Petev returns to Bulgaria to coach national team

SOFIA, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Former Ludogorets coach Ivaylo Petev has agreed to take charge of the Bulgaria national team, the domestic football union (BFU) said on Wednesday.

“Ivaylo Petev is the new coach of the Bulgarian national team,” the BFU said in a statement. “His appointment was approved unanimously at the meeting of the BFU’s Executive Committee.”

Last month, the BFU sacked Luboslav Penev, who had been in charge for three years, following Bulgaria’s poor start to their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

Bulgaria are fourth in Group H with four points from as many games, six adrift of leaders Croatia and Italy and five behind Norway.

Penev was the eighth Bulgaria manager to be sacked or leave the post since 2007.

Petev, who is considered one of the best young Bulgarian coaches after leading Ludogorets to two consecutive league titles in 2012 and 2013, left Cypriot club AEL Limassol several weeks ago.

The 39-year-old will have to deal with a hugely demanding and impatient fan base as he attempts to guide the Balkan country to the finals of a major tournament for the first time since 2004.

“I had other serious offers but it’s a huge challenge to be the national team’s coach, so I haven’t hesitated even for a second,” said Petev, who signed a three-year contract.

Petev, who will be assisted by Alexey Zhelyazkov, Rocco Perotta and Lyubomir Sheyatanov, said that Bulgaria still have a chance of reaching the Euro 2016 finals.

He hit the headlines last year when he resigned as Levski Sofia coach a day after being stripped and forced out of his first news conference by hostile fans, who believed he was a supporter of bitter rivals CSKA. (Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; editing by Toby Davis)

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