December 8, 2017 / 9:38 AM / 2 years ago

Stoilov to leave Astana despite Europa League progress

Soccer Football - Europa League - Slavia Prague vs Astana - Eden Arena, Prague, Czech Republic - December 7, 2017 Astana coach Stanimir Stoilov reacts REUTERS/David W Cerny

(Reuters) - Bulgarian coach Stanimir Stoilov is leaving Kazakh champions Astana when his contract expires at the end of the month after three-and-a-half trophy-laden years at the club.

The 50-year-old made the announcement after Astana became the first Kazakh side to reach the knockout stages of a European competition following a 1-0 win at Czech club Slavia Prague in the Europa League on Thursday.

“There are no offers (to extend the contract) as of today, which means that Astana will continue without me,” Stoilov, who led Astana to four successive league titles as well as the Kazakhstan Cup and domestic Super Cup.

Two years ago, Stoilov led Astana to the Champions League group stages in a pool featuring Spain’s Atletico Madrid, twice winners Benfica and Turkish side Galatasaray, and despite failing to advance they did draw four fixtures.

Recently Stoilov urged the management of the side founded in 2009 to sign new players in an attempt to strengthen the squad.

“I always said that when developing the club, it is important for the management to understand which way we choose,” he said. “The team needs more strong players, so sponsors need to understand it.”

Stoilov, a tough disciplinarian who has twice coached the Bulgarian national team, was also at the helm of Levski Sofia 11 years ago when they became the first side from the Balkan country to compete in the Champions League group stages.

When asked if he would agree to take charge of the Kazakhstan national team, Stoilov replied: “If such an offer is made, I will think, then I will announce my decision.”

Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by John O'Brien

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