Although not favourites, Bulgaria were no doubt in the mix for progressing from Group 1 of the 1990 World Cup qualification. Bulgaria had last time qualified for the World Cup in 1986, when they had been eliminated in the 1/8 finals against hosts Mexico. Perhaps they had been a bit underwhelming in the tournament itself, but they had been very solid in the qualifiers that time around, and remained a feared opponent throughout Europe.
Also the qualification campaign for the 1988 Euros under Hristo Mladenov had been decent, when they only were denied a place in the Euros by a late goal in the last match. They then finished just behind the Republic of Ireland, ahead of nations like Belgium and Scotland. Despite this respectable effort, Mladenov resigned as manager and left the managerial position open for the 1990 qualification. U19 manager Boris Angelov was appointed as his successor in early 1988, and had led the team to some impressive results in the start of his reign, corroborating the Bulgarians’ reputation as a difficult opponent. Read more . . .
Previous World Cups: 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1986
Manager: Boris Angelov
Vasil Levski, Sofia
Cămătaru (79′, 88′)
Bulgaria start their qualifiers with a home loss to a strong Romanian side. Angelov had gone out in an attacking 4-3-3 formation, but needed to make a tactical substitution already after 30 mins, bringing on midfielder Kolev for attacker Alexandrov. Bulgaria had to rely on free-kicks to produce any goal scoring opportunities. Playmaker Getov makes one of his rare appearances since the 1986 World Cup, but without much effect, Bulgaria’s few opening came through combinations down the left between Yordanov and Stoichkov.
Line-up (4-3-3): Borislav Mihaylov (c) – Plamen Nikolov, Zapryan Rakov, Nikolay Iliev, Dimitar Vasev (Iliyan Kiryakov 54) – Georgi Yordanov, Ayan Sadakov, Plamen Getov – Petar Aleksandrov (Hristo Kolev 31), Lyubo Penev, Hristo Stoichkov. Unused subs: Iliya Valov, Pavel Dochev, Trifon Ivanov.
Heroic, defensive battle secures one point for Bulgaria in Copenhagen. The Bulgarians do not have a lot to offer in the attacking department, but do just enough to draw. Angelov had reverted to 5-3-2 and successfully managed to close off the Danish midfield. The Danes had enough chances to score the winner, but the guests can take encouragement from this performance.
Line-up (5-3-2): Valov – Bezinski, Dochev, Iliev (c), Ivanov, Kiryakov – Kirov, Sadakov, Yordanov (Rakov 86) – Penev, Stoichkov (Balakov 89). Unused subs: Donev, Dimitrov, Aleksandrov.
Sharjah Stadium, Sharjah
United Arab Emirates
Kostadinov (18′ or 26′)
Another friendly in the Persian gulf for Bulgaria, who had encountered UAE twice earlier in 1988. Vutzov fields his strongest XI, but it’s the only newcomer in the team, Emil Kostadinov (CFKA Sredets), who bags the goal. Rare appearance for Dimitar Mladenov, the Trakia Plovdiv defender. 5-3-2 formation?
Line-up: Donev – Kiryakov, Dochev, Iliev, D. Mladenov, Bezinski (Ivanov h-t), Sadkov (Rakov 80′), Kirov (Balakov h-t) – Kostadinov, Penev (Yordanov 75′), Stoichkov.
Vasil Levski, Sofia
Bulgaria gave a decent account of themselves after going ahead through a Kostadinov header midway through the first half. Game played at fine pace until a host of second half substitutions saw quality deteriorate.
Line-up (4-3-3): Valov – Bezinski, Dochev, Iliev (c), Kiryakov – Sadakov (Todorov 65), Ivanov, Balakov (Yordanov 62) – Kostadinov, Penev, Stoichkov.
Vasil Levski, Sofia
Two losses, although against quality opposition. The most interesting thing with these two recent fixtures was the inclusion of Emil Kostadinov and Krasimir Balakov in the team. Both players were to be more involved in the qualification in 1989.
Line-up (4-3-3): Valov (Donev h-t) – Kiryakov (Ivanov 74), Dochev, Iliev (c), Bezinski – Sadakov, Kirov (Todorov 59), Balakov (Metkov 74) – Kostadinov, Penev, Stoichkov.
Vasil Levski, Sofia
B. Laudrup (90′)
Another home loss, this time against a regalvanized Denmark, means that Bulgaria already are out of contention for Italy’90.
Line-up (5-3-2): Valov (Donev 54) – Kiryakov, Rakov, Iliev (c), Dochev, Bezinski – Kirov, Getov, Sadakov (Simeonov h-t) – Mihtarski, Stoichkov.
Stadionul Steaua, Bucharest
Deserved win for Romania, but Bulgaria were more competent in the attacking department than previously in these qualifiers, especially Kostadinov proved dangerous, and could even have grabbed an equaliser. An improved performance by Bulgaria, who perhaps perform better away from home.
Line-up (4-3-3): Valov (Donev h-t) – Dochev, D Mladenov, Ivanov, Vasev – M Bakalov, Tinchev, K Balakov – Kostadinov, S Mladenov (c), Stoichkov.
Line-up: Valov – Ginchev (Georgiev h-t), Dochev, Ivanov, Bankov, Vasev – Petkov (Todorov 85), Yordanov, K Balakov – Kostadinov (Mihtarski 59), Stoichkov (Simeonov 76)
Stadio Dino Manuzzi, Cesena
Baggio (19′ pen, 35′)
4-0 is obviously a comprehensive win, but it did flatter the Italians slightly. Bulgaria were presented with a few openings of their own, but they just could not take them. They were never as close as when Stoichkov hit the inside of the post within the opening five minutes. Then their woeful defending allowed the home side to score four times.
Line-up (4-4-2): Valov – Dimitrov, Iliev, Ivanov, Dochev – Petkov (Simeonov 84), Bankov, Yordanov (Kostadinov h-t), K Balakov – Stoichkov (c), Penev.
Yuri Gagarin Stadion, Varna
Ill-tempered match with four goals and four red cards as Bulgaria finally get their first win of 1989. The match is played in atrocious conditions on a rapidly deteriorating pitch, and it is the home side that are least affected as they romp to victory with a collection of late goals. The margin of win flatters Bulgaria, but indisciplined visitors deserve what they get. Good games from Yordanov, Stoichkov and Iskrenov, and there’s a debut for Lechkov late on.
Line-up (4-3-3): Valov – Dimitrov, Ivanov, Bankov, Tinchev – Georgiev, Yordanov (Lechkov 85), K Balakov – Kostadinov (Penev 64), Stoichkov (c), Iskrenov.
Olympiakó Stádio, Athens
Small crowd sees Greece and Bulgaria end their forgettable qualification campaigns, and the visitors ought to be feeling disappointed to prop up the final table having won by that big margin against the same opponent recently.
Line-up: Valov – Dimitrov, Dochev (Stoyanov 74), Ivanov, Bankov, Tinchev – Yanchev, Yordanov, K Balakov – Iskrenov (Kostadinov 52), Stoichkov.
A disappointing qualification for Bulgaria. This was in fact by far the worst campaign they had had for years, and also compared with the years to come.
But there were also positives to take with them. The campaign saw the introduction of several players from a golden generation who would bring Bulgaria into the success of the 90s. Trifon Ivanov, Krasimir Balakov, Yordan Lechkov, Emil Kostadinov.
Final position: 4 (out of 4)
Total record: 6 1 1 4 6-8 3
Home record: 3 1 0 2 5-5 2
Away record: 3 0 1 2 1-3 1
Number of players used: 34
Number of players including unused substitutes: 36
Ever-presents (540 mins): 0
Leading goalscorer: Six players with one goal each
Yellow/red cards: 11/2
– game by game
|Player||Rom (h)||Den (a)||Den (h)||Rom (a)||Gre (h)||Gre (a)||Apps||Mins|
|Pos||Player||Average rating||Number of rated games|
05.05.1990 Brazil 2-1 Bulgaria
Line-up: Valov – Dimitrov (Dochev h-t), Ivanov, Bankov, Vasev (Lechkov 67) – Yanchev, Todorov (Georgiev 62), Yordanov, K Balakov – Kostadinov (Mihtarski h-t), Stoichkov (c) (Panchev 86)