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World Cup qualifying update: Bulgaria call up uncapped Simeon Slavchev

FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 05 Oct 2013, 11:04 IST
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Simeon Slavchev

Litex Lovech’s promising 20-year old midfielder Simeon Slavchev has been called up by Bulgarian national team boss Luboslav Penev for two crucial final qualifiers against Armenia and the Czech Republic.

Bulgaria U-21 international Slavchev is primarily a defensive midfielder but can also operate freely in a more attacking nature if needed be.

His five goals in ten domestic league games caught the eye of Luboslav Penev who needs cover for the injured Todor Nedelev and Georgi Iliev, meaning in-form Lokomotiv Sofia’s Brazilian-born midfielder Marquinhos being recalled to the outfit for the first time since November.

The tall, quick and physically efficient Simeon Slavchev would offer versatility to a Bulgaria side that need victories over a talented Armenia side and the Czech Republic to guarantee a play-off spot for next year’s World Cup in Brazil.

The once mighty Bulgaria, famous for its showing in the 1994 World Cup in the USA led by the imperious Hristo Stoichkov, have faded from the international arena recently having failed to appear in a World Cup since 1998.

Bulgaria are second in Group B with 13 points from eight matches, seven points behind Italy who have already qualified for next year’s showpiece event and Luboslav Penev’s side cannot afford any mistake from their last two qualifiers as Denmark are just a point behind on 12 with the Czech Republic and Armenia on nine points each.

Bulgaria visit Armenia on October 11 and then entertain the Czech Republic at home four days later with the first match turning out to be the most important in the country’s recent football history.

A win in Yerevan against Armenia will be tough nonetheless but will do Bulgaria’s confidence a world of good as the last game against a stuttering Czech Republic could see Sofia’s intimidating home factor come into play. Destiny is in Luboslav Penev’s side’s hands as two wins out of two would see Bulgaria secure the play-off spot no matter what Denmark do against Italy and Malta.

Squad:

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Goalkeepers: Nikolay Mihaylov (Hellas Verona), Vladislav Stoyanov (Ludogorets), Ivan Cvorovic (Ludogorets)

Defenders: Ivan Ivanov (Basel), Pavel Vidanov (Zaglebie Lubin), Petar Zanev (Amkar Perm), Yordan Minev (Ludogorets), Veselin Minev (Botev Plovdiv), Nikolay Bodurov (Litex Lovech), Yordan Hristov (Botev Plovdiv), Iliya Milanov (Litex Lovech), Alexander Alexandrov (Cherno More Varna), Radoslav Dimitrov (Slavia Sofia)

Midfielders: Stanislav Manolev (PSV Eindhoven), Georgi Milanov (CSKA Moscow), Aleksandar Tonev (Aston Villa), Vladimir Gadzhev (Levski Sofia), Svetoslav Dyakov (Ludogorets), Hristo Zlatinski (Ludogorets), Simeon Slavchev (Litex Lovech), Marquinhos (Lokomotiv Sofia)

Forwards: Ivelin Popov (Kuban Krasnodar), Spas Delev (Las Palmas), Dimitar Rangelov (Luzern), Emil Gargorov (CSKA Sofia), Ventsislav Hristov (Beroe Stara Zagora)

Published 05 Oct 2013, 11:04 IST
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