BBC BLOGS - Jonathan Stevenson

Archives for September 2010

Young Partizan coach gunning for Arsenal scalp

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Jonathan Stevenson | 16:13 UK time, Monday, 27 September 2010

Aleksandar Stanojevic might not be very well known in England right now, but the upwardly mobile Partizan Belgrade coach could be about to change all that.

At the tender age of 36, the Serbian leads his team into Champions League battle against Arsenal at the Stadion FK Partizan on Tuesday with a reputation that is burgeoning by the week.

After being named Partizan's third manager of a fractured season in April, Stanojevic quickly set about making a good impression at his boyhood club. They wasted no time in turning around a deficit to win the league title and then went a step further by beating Belgian champions Anderlecht on penalties to progress to the group stage of the Champions League for the first time in seven years.

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Bulgarians remain in shadow of class of '94

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Jonathan Stevenson | 13:22 UK time, Thursday, 2 September 2010

When Bulgaria start their campaign to qualify for Euro 2012 against England at Wembley on Friday, they will do so with the weight of recent history set strongly against them.

After all, this is a country that has not won a game at a major tournament since 1996, not qualified for one since 2004 and finished a distant third behind Italy and the Republic of Ireland in their last World Cup qualifying group as they failed to reach the finals for a third successive time, falling to 43rd in the Fifa rankings in the process.

Despite producing players of the quality of record scorer Dimitar Berbatov, who has now retired from international football, and the Petrovs - Stiliyan and Martin - Bulgaria has been a country in freefall since losing 3-1 to France in their final group game at Euro '96.

"The Bulgarian national team is in a very difficult situation at the moment," Bulgarian great Yordan Letchkov told BBC Sport.

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