Stoichkov enjoys winning start as Litex boss

Marcelo Nicasio's hat-trick gave Litex Lovech's new coach Hristo Stoichkov a winning start to his tenure in a 3-0 victory over Vidima-Rakovski on Saturday as the Bulgarian league resumed after the winter break.

"The team won the three points, not Hristo Stoichkov," the former European Footballer of the Year, who replaced Atanas Dzhambazki earlier this year to coach a club in his native country for the first time, told reporters.

"I'm extremely pleased with my players' discipline," added Stoichkov, who had a reputation as a player for his aggressive manner on the pitch, often arguing with referees and opponents.

Brazilian striker Nicasio, who also made his debut for the Oranges fired champions Litex ahead with a superb scissor-kick after seven minutes.

The 29-year-old doubled their lead with another splendid volley midway through the first half and then made it 3-0 after a fine solo run four minutes from time.

"He's a wonderful player, who lives with the thought of scoring goals," said Stoichkov, who has so far been unable to match his playing achievements as a coach.

Surprise leaders Ludogorets continued their impressive run with a 3-0 win over Beroe Stara Zagora with Ivan Stoyanov scoring twice after the break and fellow Bulgaria international Emil Gargorov adding a late third.

Newcomers Ludogorets, based in the town of Razgrad which has a population below 35,000, are top on 39 points from 16 matches.