A Swarm Of Bees - World Cup 2022 Qualifications (EP 30)
Impossible is nothing!
We are looking back at the other team that I manage and where the things aren't bright as the season at Brentford FC
and is really difficult to maneuver. After brilliant start of my Bulgaria career as we won our Nations League C, got promoted into League B and qualified for Euro 2020 for the first time in 16 years
, things got ugly as we made our worst performance at the finals.
After that we got relegated back into Nations League C
after really unlucky campaign finishing with the same points as the team ahead of us and just 3 points behind the winner of the group.
After all we play good football and the nation is happy that we are competitive once again. We might not be winning and dominating over teams, however we found our game and can trouble every team in the world.
The qualifications for the strange winter World Cup 2022
put us in awful group for us. Also the rules state that only the first team in the group will reach the finals (and the best 3 teams finished in second place).
Unfair to my view as Europe
gets way too small amount of teams in the final compared to other continents. (South America has 10 teams, 5 qualify?
). Of course teams from Africa & Asia
should also get bigger numbers and maybe the forum needs some rebuilding getting more teams. Small nations almost has no chance of even qualifying.
Again we look way more to the young players in the nation, however it's still early and not many talents emerged through the last year. Slow and steady - this is our strategy.
We try to introduce as many youngster to the first team and still be competitive and try to win games. Bulgaria will use 3 defender systems against the bigger teams and 4-3-2-1 against the weaker sides and when we trail in the score in the final minutes.
The group that are we are handled is giving us maybe 1% of qualifying
for the World Cup as we will face -
Spain, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Austria, Latvia & Moldova.
Last time the teams played at big forum:
- Euro 2020 Quarter-final (3 times winner), World Cup 2018 round of 16 (1 time winner)
Bosnia & Herzegovina
- never qualified in Euros, World Cup 2014 group stage.
- Euro 2016 group stage, World Cup 1998 group stage (3rd place in 1954).
- Euro 2020 group stage, World Cup 1998 group stage (4th place in 1994).
- Euro 2004 group stage, never qualified for World Cup.
- Never qualified for both Euros nor World Cup.
Even though Bosnia & Austria doesn't have so many achievements, both teams are young and hungry for wins with great talents in them. However we will be up for the challenge and try our best!
Bulgaria vs. Moldova
We start our campaign against the lowest ranked team in the group and everything looks like a nightmare as we are down 0-1 after just 18'.
Until the end of the first half we had some chances but nothing more. We are out of this competition before even playing a couple of matches?
However our players woke up in the second half and tuned my half time fury speech into 4 goals and demolishing Moldova. Stade Brestois's Strahil Popov made a performance to remember after blasting two great goals, making one assist and winning POTM!
Young talent Stanislav Ivanov (playing at Middlesbrough on loan from Watford)
got one more. In the final minutes of the game for the first time in 3 years (!!!) one of our strikers score a goal. (Last time this happened in 2019 in the last match for Euros Qualifications)
, oh my lord...
In other matches:
Austria - Bosnia & Herzegovina 1:2
Spain - Latvia 3:0
Bosnia & Herzegovina vs. Bulgaria
We deserved a lot more than that! Although we were down from the 9 minute
of the game after a direct free kick goal, we had a lot of opportunities to equalize the score, but missed our chances. We pushed our opponents to their limit as the second half we were far more dangerous from them. However we fail to score, turned our attention just to the attack and Bosnia hit us hard with a counter attacking goal. 2-0.
Latvia - Austria 0:4
Moldova - Spain 0:1
So after the first March 2021
matches everything is going according to plan for Spain & Bosnia. Both teams with 6pts, Bulgaria and Austria with 3 pts., Moldova & Latvia without any.
Bulgaria vs. Latvia
We enter June fixture with a really laud bang! 3 goals in the first 13 minutes and the supporters are not believing their eyes!
And two of these goals came from our striker Stanislav Kostov (playing in the local league in Levski
) - MIRACLE!
Again we are brought really fast to the ground as Latvia scores 2 goals inside 3 minutes
and are back in the game! The away team even had a chance to make the result 3-3 but our keeper kept away the ball from the net. The Player Of the Match and biggest star in our team Kiril Despodov calmed down the burning fire with a nice solo goal
and after just 31' the supporters saw 6 goals! The game really calms down as Latvia don't have the power for another push and our players playing safe.
Nice win, maybe this is the first time in history that we score 4 goals in second straight home win!
Moldova - Bosnia & Herzegovina 1:3
Spain - Austria 1:0
And next up is the really important match against Austria.
Austria vs. Bulgaria
The fans were pumped up that we can actually achieve something, but Das Team
crushed our dreams. Again as the match with Bosnia we were trailing for the most of the match.
In the final 20 minutes we changed our system and tried to attack a lot powerful than us team and simply got punished with pacey counter attacks that we could not defend. The match again was pretty even but our final push failed giving the home team 2 more goals in the end of the match so it look like they were the dominating team - not exactly like that.
However the points are given for wins and we didn't win - so back to the mediocrity!
Bosnia & Herzegovina - Spain 2:4
Latvia - Moldova - 1:2
We knew this will be tough and our task is to finish above or equal to the expectations of 4th place!
Everything more will be bonus and I'll be happy about it.
Moldova vs. Bulgaria
September started with away match against Moldova and we don't disappoint after 2 goals in the end of each half. I'm happy with finding good playmaker in the last year in the face of Antoni Ivanov
(who plays in the Romanian League
). Great all round player who is the most constant guy in our team - always giving his all for the team. He was one of the stars of the night - winning POTM. Georgi Milanov
who replaced Kiril Despodov (injury)
for September matches provided 2 assist
and Stanislav Kostov scored his 4th goal in the campaign!
It's vital that we don't slip against weaker sides!
Bosnia & Herzegovina - Austria 0:0
Latvia - Spain 1:3
Pure magic moment!
Bulgaria vs. Spain
We faced La Furia Roja
which was destroying everything on his way to the World Cup.
We parked the bus and give 110% of ourselves. Our keeper Plamen Iliev
who returned as number one choice after great performances for the club team made 10 saves and logically won
POTM. As the game was coming to an end I was pretty happy that we will win a point against such great team, but then Antoni Ivanov
saw our left wingback Ivan Goranov
running like wild and completely free on the wing, gave him a perfect pass and Goranov scored crazy volley goal in the top far corner!
40 000 mad man at the standings erupted like a volcano! AMAZING WIN FOR US!
Bosnia & Herzegovina - Latvia 3:0
Moldova - Austria 2:1
Great news came from Moldova which unexpectedly won against Austria.
Small glimpse of hope was sneaking among the fans, can we make the miracle and finish 2nd and pray to be among the best 3 2nd placed teams.
After September 2021 the standing was - Spain 15 pts., Bosnia 13 pts., Bulgaria 12pts., Austria 7 pts., Moldova 6 pts., Latvia 0 pts.
Bulgaria vs. Bosnia & Herzegovina
We had a great opportunity at home to attack the second position in direct clash against Bosnia! Missed opportunity - this is the best words for the match. We had great opportunities to go ahead in the score but were wasted by our players. This time we were the better team through the whole of the match, however Bosnia got the point that they wanted by great defensive display. Defender Stefan Velkov (playing at Swedish Djurgardens) won POTM with some great work on the second floor and delivering the ball to the midfield.
We beat the away team on every stat, but not on the most important one - goals.
It's vital that we don't slip against weaker sides!
Austria - Latvia 4:0
Spain - Moldova 4:0
Latvia vs. Bulgaria
Exactly the same score as the first game, this time the win didn't came so fast. Most of our players performed greatly and showed their quality. Right wingback Ivan Turitsov (playing at Kortrjik) scored his first international goal to give us the lead. Todor Nedelev & Stanislav Ivanov both added one more to their account to lead us to comfortable scoreline 0-3
. Again as the first match we were troubled by two quick goals by Latvia to pressure us. Kristian Malinov with his trademark - long distance goal put the end of their hopes!
As our main man Kiril Despodov
was still injured Georgi Milanov once again provided! 2 more assist and POTM award for him!
With this win we go on a 4 match unbeaten run!
Austria - Spain 0:1
Bosnia & Herzegovina - Moldova 3:1
October 2021 standings - Spain 21 pts., Bosnia 17 pts., Bulgaria 16pts., Austria 10 pts., Moldova 6 pts., Latvia 0 pts.
Okay, the thing that we can possibly secure qualification and we are still in the game with only 2 games left are giving us hope that we are in the right direction!
Of course this will be magical because our next 2 games are against Spain & Austria, but just imagine what a results these can be!
Fans are dreaming once again and this is our win for this qualifications. Probably we won't achieve something but we are in the game, not accepting the mentality of a losers!
The whole wrath of Spain fell on us!
Spain vs. Bulgaria
It's my mistake that I tried a little bit more attacking scheme against this mighty team, but never expected such beating. They had almost the same numbers of shots or target - 12 (10 in the first game), this time almost all of them went in.
We could not did anything. Ansu Fati
with a hattrick, they purely crushed our hopes. Young Tonislav Yordanov
(playing at CSKA-Sofia
) scored his first goal for the team and that was the only good news.
The scores from the other matches came - Bosnia have won against Latvia and we don't have chance for the second place no more.
Austria - Moldova 3:0
Latvia - Bosnia & Herzegovina 0:4
Bulgaria vs. Austria
After the results in the previous match we have nothing to play. The match against Austria
was for the 3rd place in the group
that gives nothing and I gave the chance of the players that are not selected so often to impress me, also the other guys were shattered after the match against Spain
. We were better in the first half and scored superb goal by Nedelev
(his 3rd for the campaign
). In the second half our boys were lacking concentration and fell behind after two good goals by our opponents. Unlucky defeat
, however I'm proud that even my reserves gave hard time to our opponents.
Moldova - Latvia 0:2
Spain - Bosnia & Herzegovina 5:1
We finished where we were predicted to finish - 4th
(only on goal difference).Even that we end the journey with 2 defeats I'm happy with the team, we achieved what we wanted for these qualifications. There were no illusion that we can qualify in this kind of group, we just want to give the fans some hope that we CAN beat big teams and can fight and be competitive! We achieved that!
It's some kind of relief that the 2nd team in our group didn't qualify and even if we had won against Spain & Austria in November we wouldn't qualify. Also it is important for me that we didn't have troubles with the lower ranked teams and beat them in all 4 matches. After this competition we moved up to 64th position in the World.
The players that made good impression in this campaign were - Stanislav Kostov - scoring 4 goals, Todor Nedelev - scoring 3 and assisting 1, Georgi Milanov - with 4 assists and 1 POTM and Antoni Ivanov - with 4 assist to his account.
Another hard to swallow pill for my Bulgaria adventure, but I'm used to it. We should look at the bright side of it and search for the positive, maybe next time it will be a lot better. Next stop for the national team - Nations League 2022
which will be held through the summer.
Thanks for reading once again & hope you enjoy it.
- We are on our way, but I'm afraid that we can have some kind of crisis in the most important months which will be awful for our dreams.
- We are very close and it will be remarkable if we can pull this off in our only second season in PL.
- He is on fire, no doubt about that, but all the players are performing well better than last year.