Bulgarian coach Atanas Marinov has declared his interest in the vacant Malta post.
The Malta FA are looking for a new coach to lead the national team after parting company with John Buttigieg last October.
Dusan Fitzel, who enjoyed a positive spell as Malta coach between 2006 and 2009, is the MFA’s preferred candidate to succeed Buttigieg but the Slovak-born coach, who currently occupies the role of technical director at the Czech FA, is still pondering his options.
Around 35 foreign hopefuls, including some high-profile names such as Sammy Lee, Francesco Graziani and Jurgen Kohler, have reportedly sent their CVs to the Malta FA and Marinov, who guided a host of Maltese clubs in the past, is one of the latest to throw his hat into the ring.
“I’ve coached in Malta for several years,” Marinov told The Times from Bulgaria. “I know the situation in Maltese football and I’m also familiar with the Maltese players.
“I believe my experience of Maltese football is an asset as I’ve worked with different teams in the 20 years I’ve been coaching.”
Marinov first came to Malta in the mid-nineties to take charge of St Patrick and went on to coach some of the country’s leading clubs, including Birkirkara, Valletta and Ħamrun Spartans.
After returning to his home country, Marinov had a two-year spell as coach of Bulgaria’s U-19 team but he’s currently without a job.
Marinov believes that he has the right credentials to be considered for the Malta job.
“I’m confident that I can provide a good service (as Malta coach),” Marinov said.
“I’m a foreigner but at the same time I know Maltese football very well. I have a very good relationship with the players and club officials.
“Malta is a second home for my family and I. Since returning to Bulgaria three years ago, I’ve visited Malta five or six times.
“I was coach of the U-19 Bulgarian national team for two years and I’m still helping the association as adviser.
“During my time with the U-19 squad, I worked very closely with the national coach as the Bulgarian federation often sent me to scout opposing teams.”
Marinov also used his time in Bulgaria to obtain his pro coaching licence. “It (pro coaching course) was one of the reasons I chose to return to Bulgaria,” Marinov said.
The Bulgarian, who forwarded his CV to the MFA some two weeks ago, has received offers to coach Botev Vrasta, who play in Bulgaria’s top division, and one in India but admitted that, if he were to move from Plovdiv, his home town, Malta would be his favoured destination.
“I had discussions with Botev Vrasta, a club in the north of the country, and also had an offer from India but if I have to leave my town, I’d rather come back to Malta,” Marinov said.
With Bulgaria in Group B of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, Marinov would find himself gunning against his home country if he lands the Malta job. The same scenario looms for Fitzel as Czech Republic are also in Group B, the other nations being Italy, Denmark and Armenia.
Former Ireland manager Brian Kerr has also reportedly put his name forward for the Malta job while The Times has information that football agents have also advanced the nominations of Lee, the former Liverpool midfielder and later assistant coach, and Graziani and Kohler, who won the World Cup with Italy and Germany respectively, during their playing days.
Sources have also indicated to The Times that former Argentina and Tottenham Hotspur stalwart Ossie Ardiles is also interested in the job.
All the applications are being scrutinised by Robert Gatt, the MFA technical director.
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