Stoichkov poised to take over at CSKA Sofia

Former European Footballer of the Year Hristo Stoichkov is poised to be named coach of his former club CSKA Sofia, the 31-times Bulgarian champions said on Wednesday.

"We've reached an agreement with Hristo and he'll sign a contract when he returns from the United States [where he is on a private trip]," CSKA president Dimitar Borisov told state television BNT1.

The surprising announcement came only a few days after former Bulgaria striker Stoichkov, who won three league titles and four national cups as a CSKA player in the 1980s, said he would continue his work as coach of Litex Lovech.

The impending move has increased media speculation that CSKA and Litex could merge in an attempt to save costs, with the two clubs already discussing the possibility in January.

Many Bulgarian clubs are facing infrastructure difficulties and are struggling to meet administrative, legal and financial conditions laid down by European football's governing body UEFA.

CSKA chiefs have fallen out with die-hard supporters, who have accused them of incompetence and called on them to quit.

The Reds reached semi-finals in Europe three times between 1967 and 1989 but have struggled to revive their success recently and have not won the league title since 2008.

Litex, who are based in Lovech, a town about 150 km north-east of the capital Sofia, were not immediately available to comment.

Since 1996 when the club was bought by Grisha Ganchev, one of Bulgaria's richest businessmen, Litex have won four league titles and four national Cups and become regular participants in European competitions.

CSKA fans have already expressed their delight at the possible return of crowd favourite Stoichkov with some of Litex's best players expected to follow the coach.

If appointed, 47-year-old Stoichkov would become CSKA's fourth coach this year after Stoycho Mladenov, Serbian Miordag Jesic and Milen Radukanov, who is still registered as the coach.

Flamboyant Stoichkov was a key member of the Bulgaria team who reached the semi-finals of the 1994 World Cup in the United States - the Balkan country's greatest football achievement.

He was also part of Barcelona's "Dream Team" who won the Spanish title four times in succession in the early 1990s under Dutch coach Johan Cruyff.


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