CSKA Sofia hire new coach who agrees to work for free

CSKA Sofia hire new coach who agrees to work for free
By Reuters

28/04/2015 at 16:33Updated 28/04/2015 at 21:29

Luboslav Penev was appointed coach by cash-strapped CSKA Sofia for a second spell on Tuesday and will work for the remainder of the season without pay as the 31-times Bulgarian champions seek to end the worst scoring run in their history.

"Penev is a prominent figure with undisputed prestige and professional qualities," CSKA said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that the 48-year-old crowd favourite could unite the fans.

CSKA shareholder Milko Georgiev added: "Yes, I can confirm that Lubo will be working for free, he's an outstanding man. We want Lubo to lead us to five wins (in their five remaining games), he wants this too."

The team were league leaders before the two-and-a-half month winter break but have failed to score a goal in eight matches in 2015, picking up two points in that run.

The Reds are now fourth with 46 points from 27 matches, nine behind leaders Ludogorets.

Former Bulgaria striker Penev, one of the Balkan country's soccer icons, replaces Galin Ivanov as he becomes the club's third coach this season.

Penev, who scored more than 150 goals in the Spanish league for Valencia, Atletico Madrid, Compostela and Celta Vigo during his playing career, was once described by ex-England coach Terry Venables as "one of the top three forwards in the world".

"Welcome back, El Grande," CSKA's biggest fan club said in a statement. "There's no better option than great Lubo Penev in the current situation."

Penev, who is remembered for his poacher's instinct in the penalty box, won two league titles and four Bulgarian Cups with CSKA as a player, scoring 88 goals in 123 matches. He also coached the team between March 2009 and January 2010.

Last November, Penev was sacked as Bulgaria coach after a poor start to their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

CSKA, who reached three semi-finals in European competition in happier times, are one of the two most popular clubs in the Black Sea state along with city rivals Levski Sofia.