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Former Malta national team coach Dobrev dies

Guentcho Dobrev (second row, centre) posing with the national team during his spell in charge.

Maltese football woke up on Tuesday mourning the loss of former national coach Guentcho Dobrev.

The Bulgarian coach was named as Malta coach on May 23, 1984  at a time when the MFA was looking to revamp its national team with the introduction of the professional scheme.

The Malta Football Association issued a statement to pay tribute to Dobrev.

“The Malta Football association is deeply saddened by the news of the demise of former national team coach Gencho Dobrev, who passed away yesterday evening at the age of 73.

“Dobrev, an ex-Akademik and Levski Sofia player between1959 and 1966, was appointed Malta NT coach at the start of 1984.

“The Bulgarian mentor managed to obtain some prestigious results, like a 2-2 away draw against Portugal in a Euro qualifier (1987) a goalless home draw against Czechoslovakia in a World Cup qualifier (1985) and a 1-1 draw against Switzerland in another Euro qualifier in 1987. In December 1984,

“Dobrev coached the Malta team who stretched West Germany to the limit at Ta’ Qali in a memorable match, won 2-3 by the Germans. Dobrev’s last match was a home match against Portugal (0-1) in December 1987, before being replaced by Horst Heese.

“He remained active in coaching on the island however, with a successful stint with Mosta FC in the 1st Division between 1988 and 1991, returning to the club in 1999-2000.

“He also had three short spells in the Premier Division with Sliema Wanderers (92/93), Xghajra Tornados (2000/01) and Ħamrun Spartans (2003/04), apart from two short periods with St Patrick (91/92 & 93/94) in the 1st Division. Dobrev also worked as head coach of several youth nurseries, helping to develop football talent on the islands.

“The Association expresses its deepest condolences to Gencho’s family and friends. May he rest in peace.”

During his period as national team coach, Dobrev had some of the most talented players in the national team era such as John Buttigieg, Ray Vella, Michael Degiorgio, and Carmel Busuttil, just to name a few.

In all, Dobrev led the national team for 21 matches, managing one win four draws and 16 defeats.

During his time in charge, the national team produced some eye-catching performances which included a 3-2 defeat to West Germany at the National Stadium and a 2-2 draw against Portugal in Funchal.

After he stepped down as national team coach Dobrev also worked a lot in grass root football in Malta, inspiring several young players to the Beautiful Game.

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