(Reuters) - Kazakhstan have named Bulgarian Stanimir Stoilov, who led Astana to four successive domestic league titles, as their new coach, the Kazakhstan Football Federation (KFF) said on Thursday.
The 51-year-old, who helped Astana become the first Kazakh side to reach the knockout stages of a European competition, signed a two-year contract and will make his debut in the dugout in a friendly against Hungary in Budapest on March 23.
Stoilov, who has twice coached the Bulgarian national team, also managed Levski Sofia in 2006 when they became the first team from the Balkan country to compete in the Champions League group stages.
Kazakhstan have been without a coach since January when Russian Aleksandr Borodyuk resigned following a run of poor results. Kazakhstan lost six and drew one in 2017.
“My task is to raise the level of Kazakhstan,” Stoilov, known as a tough disciplinarian, told reporters. “I’ll give my best to help the team. The national team is the main team in the country.”
Kazakhstan, which gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, have never qualified for the World Cup or the European championship finals.
They have previously employed several non-Soviet coaches, including Dutchman Arno Pijpers, German Bernd Storck and Czech Miroslav Beranek.
“I have been living in Kazakhstan for a long time and I can say that I know a lot about the country,” Stoilov said. “It’s clear that the Kazakhstan (team) have problems but we’ll try to change the situation for the better.”
Kazakhstan have been drawn alongside Georgia, Latvia and Andorra in League D Group 1 in the inaugural UEFA Nations League, the latest addition to the football calendar.
Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Toby Davis