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Male: Velizar Popov has been appointed head coach of the Maldives national team, returning to the country where he led New Radiant to an unprecedented domestic treble in 2013.

The 38-year-old Bulgarian oversaw a league campaign that ended with New Radiant making history as the first team to take the Dhivehi League title with a 100% record. In the same year Popov led the Blues to success in the FA Cup and the season-opening Charity Shield and also made his mark in the continental arena leading New Radiant to the quarter-finals of the 2013 AFC Cup.

Popov embarks on his first foray into national team coaching having had spells in Oman with Sur and in Thailand with Suphanburi and takes over the Maldives managerial reigns from Croatian coach Drago Mamic, who led the 2008 SAFF champions to a third-place finish in the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup as the Indian Ocean island republic hosted the last edition of the tournament prior to a restructuring the AFC’s national team competitions.

Speaking at a press conference at FAM (Football Association of the Maldives) on Thursday Popov told reporters that he was relishing his return to the Maldives and was looking forward to co-operating with the FAM and all the clubs in the Dhivehi Premier League and second division for the benefit of the national team and for the greater good of Maldivian football.

“I am always happy to be here and I would like to thank the new management of FAM for giving me this opportunity,” Popov was quoted as saying by maldivessoccer.com.

“Here I feel at home and everyone respects me. They [the FAM] are doing a good job and I hope things will be better with the new changes.

“My first target is to change something in the organization. If I have only four or five days before a tournament I can’t change anything. I want at least one day in a week to train with national team players.”

“I want to work every day and if any club wants my help, happily I will assist them. I am not here for holidays.”

Photo: AFP