Matthaeus Reign Starts Right For Bulgaria


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With Wales midfielder GARETH BALE (11) of English side Tottenham Hotspur looking on, Bulgaria midfielder IVELIN POPOV (9) of Turkish club Gaziantepspor blasts the winning goal past Wales netminder WAYNE HENNESSEY of English club Wolverhampton Wolves at the Cardiff City Stadium. (www.thesun.co.uk photo)
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When Germany’s most-capped international player, LOTHAR MATTHAEUS, was hired as the national team manager of BULGARIA, many people, including the country’s Prime Minister, were skeptical of the appointment.

“I don’t know what he will do in Bulgaria,” stated Prime Minister BOYKO BORISOV. “The most he can achieve is get married one more time here.”

After a heavy 4-0 loss to England and an embarrassing 1-0 home loss to Montenegro to start its European Championships qualifying campaign, STANIMIR STOILOV resigned as manager of Bulgaria’s national team — which led to the hiring of Matthaeus.

Now, the World Cup-winning midfielder who appeared 150 times and scored 23 goals for Germany has steered Bulgaria to victory in his first match in charge of the national team.

A goal by Turkish legionnaire midfielder IVELIN POPOV of Gaziantepspor three minutes into the second half stood up as goalkeeper NIKOLAY MIHAILOV of Dutch side FC Twente Enschede, once on the books of English club FC Liverpool, turned in a clean sheet to afford Bulgaria a 1-0 win on the road in Cardiff City.

No report on the reaction of Prime Minister Boykov to the victory by Matthaeus’ men over Wales, which has given Bulgaria new life in Group G of the European Championships.

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Always interesting when club teammates compete against each other in international matches. In this instance, it was a pair of English Premier League clubs with players who found themselves on opposite sides in the European Championships.

Aston Villa featured defender JAMES COLLINS for Wales with STILYAN PETROV in midfield for Bulgaria while Bolton Wanderers had winger MARTIN PETROV of Bulgaria facing Wales defender SAMUEL RICKETTS.

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