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Football is the most popular sport in Bulgaria. It was invited by Swiss gymnastic teachers from 1893 to 1894. A football game was first held in 1894 in Varna at the High School for Boys, where it was introduced by Georges de Regibus and brought to Sofia the following year by Charles Champaud. The rules of the game were published in Bulgarian in 1897 by Swiss teachers in the journal Uchilishten pregled, and football continued to gain popularity at the beginning of the 20th century. Among the founders of the Turkish team Galatasaray S.K. In 1905, the Bulgarian Lycée de Galatasaray student Blagoy Balakchiev and the first Bulgarian club, Futbol Club, was founded in 1909 in Sofia on the initiative of Sava Kirov.
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PFC Botev Plovdiv was founded in 1912, PFC Slavia Sofia 1913 and PFC Levski Sofia 1914. The Bulgarian national football team debuted on May 21, 1924 in a qualifier for the 1924 Summer Olympics and lost in Vienna against Austria 0: 6. What is today PFC CSKA Sofia, was founded on May 5, 1948. In the 1950s and 1960s, Bulgarian football achieved its greatest Olympic success. At the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, he finished third and at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, he was also fifth Euro 1968. 1962 Bulgaria qualified for the first time for a FIFA World Cup tournament, in which so far seven people participated. At the FIFA World Cup 1986, Bulgaria reached the round of 16. At the 1994 FIFA World Cup, Bulgaria was awarded the biggest World Cup success, fourth place, the departure of reigning World Champion Germany and the highest scorer's prize of Hristo Stoichkov.
The Bulgarian national football team (Bulgarian: Български национален отбор по футбол) represents Bulgaria in international football and is managed by the Bulgarian Football Federation, a member association of UEFA. The home stadium of the team is the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, and Krasimir Balakov is the current national team manager.
Her best achievements include the finals of the 1968 Summer Olympics and the 1994 FIFA World Cup semi-finals. They also took part in the Balkan Cup and won four titles. However, Bulgaria has not qualified for a major tournament since the 2004 European Championships.
After the Bulgarian team could not participate in the World Cup in 1930, they qualified for almost 30 years, not for a big tournament and missed just short of the qualification. The national team had in their qualifying group with the entry into the play-offs a phase of second or third place behind, but could not qualify in the end. Despite their qualifying problems, the national team managed to defeat many elite teams in memorable international friendlies over the years. It also seemed that the only tournaments they could qualify for were smaller tournaments like the Balkan Cup, which they won four times.
1994 World Cup: Final Four Triumph
One of the most important dates in Bulgarian football history is November 17, 1993, when Emil Kostadinov scored twice in the 90th minute against France in Paris and qualified for the World Cup in 1994. The management of Dimitar Penev, the Bulgarians, Led by players such as Hristo Stoichkov, Yordan Lechkov and Krasimir Balakov, as well as a host of other talented players, known in Bulgaria as the "Golden Generation", Semifinals impressed with a surprising success. With Diego Maradona, the runner-up to the African Nations Cup in Nigeria and the Balkan rivals Greece, she joined a very difficult Group D in 1990. The first game ended with a 0-3 defeat to Nigeria. Despite the poor start, the team made a pretty big statement by winning 4-0 against their Greece and increasing their goal difference. The third and final game was against Argentina. The strong Bulgarian side came away with a shocking 2-0 victory. In injury time, Argentina led the group. However, Nasko Sirakov's 91th-minute strike meant they lost two places and took third place.
Bulgaria continued in the last sixteen and met Mexico. Stoichkov opened the game in the sixth minute with an incredible strike after a break outside the box and scored his fourth goal. The game ended 1-1 and after scoring extra goals in extra time, the penalty shoot-out decided which team would make it. Team captain Borislav Mihaylov saved the first three penalties in a row and broke the world record. Bulgaria won 3-1 on penalties. Bulgaria faced defending champions Germany in the quarter-finals. At the start of the game at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the Bulgarians dominated impressively, hitting the post twice. However, the Bulgarians managed to turn the game over with an elusive free-kick from Hristo Stoichkov and a flying header from Yordan Lechkov, giving them a 2-1 victory. In the semifinals they lost controversial 2-1 to Italy. Stoichkov scored Bulgaria's only goal in the first half, scoring his seventh goal to lead the tournament. In the second half, Bulgaria were cautioned by a penalty, in which an Italian defender had clearly committed a handball in the penalty area after Kostadinov's cross.
Hristo Stoichkov was awarded the Golden Boot, which was shared with Oleg Salenko as the tournament's top scorer with six goals. Krasimir Balakov was appointed to the World Cup Dream Team together with Stoichkov in 1994. Later in December, Stoichkov became the first Bulgarian and third Barcelona player in history to be honored for his skill and leadership with the FIFA Ballon D'Or Cup.
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