Bulgaria labelled 'laughing stock' of Europe

Bulgaria's national team were labelled the "laughing stock of Europe" by local media on Wednesday after their dismal Euro 2012 qualifying campaign ended in a home defeat by Wales.

Playing in front of near deserted Vasil Levski stadium on Tuesday, Bulgaria lost 1-0 against the Welsh to finish bottom of Group G with only five points from eight matches - their worst ever performance in major tournament qualifying.

Bulgaria failed to score in any of their four home qualifiers and last won on home soil in October 2009 when former captain Dimitar Berbatov scored a hat-trick in a 6-2 rout of Georgia in a 2010 World Cup qualifier.

"National disaster," "Wales buried Bulgaria," "Shame! The laughing stock of Europe" and "[interim coach Mihail] Madanski's bunch of idiots disgraced Bulgaria," screamed newspaper headlines.

A crowd of just 1,600 people, almost half of them coming from Wales, were in attendance at the 44,000-capacity national stadium with home fans boycotting the game over poor results.

The Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) had given several hundred free tickets to fan clubs but that incentive failed to generate interest.

Caretaker coach Madanski, who became Bulgaria's third coach in the campaign by replacing German Lothar Matthaus last month, has hinted that he prefers to continue his work with the Bulgaria Under-21 team.

"I'm sorry to say but it'll be very difficult for the BFU to find a good coach," said BFU executive committee member Emil Kostadinov.

"Any self-respecting coach would not agree to work in Bulgaria in a situation like this," added Kostadinov, whose last-minute strike gave Bulgaria a 2-1 win over France to clinch a place at the 1994 World Cup finals in the U.S.

Bulgarian fans are now hoping that all-time leading scorer Dimitar Berbatov will end his international retirement.

Fans from all around the country will travel to neighboring Romania next week to urge 30-year-old Berbatov to change his mind during his team Manchester United's Champions League game against Otelul Galati.

Berbatov, who boasts a remarkable international scoring record of 48 goals in 79 matches, quit the national team in May last year.

"I think it's a big mistake not to have Berbatov and Martin Petrov [the Bolton Wanderers winger was omitted for Wales game] in the team," said Bulgaria captain Stilian Petrov, who is the country's most capped player with 105 appearances.

"It'll be completely different if they're part of the team."