Velizar Popov

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This name uses Eastern Slavic naming customs; the patronymic is Emilov and the family name is Popov.
Velizar Popov
Personal information
Full name Velizar Emilov Popov
Date of birth (1976-02-07) 7 February 1976 (age 41)
Place of birth Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Height 1.84 m (6 ft 12 in)
Playing position Defensive midfielder, Defender
Club information
Current team
Sisaket
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1995–1996 Lokomotiv Plovdiv
1996–1999 Hebar Pazardzhik
1999–2000 Spartak Plovdiv
Teams managed
1999–2002 Spartak Plovdiv (youth coach)
2002–2007 Cherno More (youth coach)
2007–2009 Cherno More (assistant manager)
2009–2010 Cherno More
2010–2011 FC Liberika
2011–2012 Costuleni
2012–2013 New Radiant SC
2013–2014 Sur Club
2014 Suphanburi
2015 Maldives
2016 Kelantan
2017– Sisaket
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Velizar Emilov Popov (Bulgarian: Велизар Попов; born 7 February 1976), known as Velizar Popov is a Bulgarian professional football manager and former football player. An UEFA Pro licence holder, Popov is recently the Head coach of Premier Thai League T1 club Sisaket. [1]

During his career as a player, he has played for Lokomotiv Plovdiv, Hebar Pazardzhik and Spartak Plovdiv. Popov is one of the best ambassadors of the Bulgarian coaching guild abroad, especially in Asia. He is the first Bulgarian coach who won historic treble with a 100% winning record in 2013 abroad and also the first Bulgarian coach who has ever worked in the Moldovan Premier League in 2011, Thailand Premier League in 2014 and in the Malaysian Super League in 2016. Popov is a highly qualified and ambitious professional football coach with over 17 years experience coaching across the world with extensive stints in Europe, Asia and Middle East, gained tremendous experience with more than 150 official games as a head coach in premier leagues and international competitions last 7 years in Europe-Bulgaria Premier League, Denmark, Moldova Premier League, Asia-Thailand Premier League, Malaysian Super League, Maldives National Team and in the Gulf-Oman Premier League participated in international competitions such as AFC Cup, UEFA Europa League and Asian World Cup Qualifiers.

Coaching career[edit]

Cherno More[edit]

Popov had been appointed on 16 September 2009 as the manager of Cherno More Varna to replace Nikola Spasov after two years of working as his assistant.He made his debut as a football manager in the Bulgarian A PFG on 20 September 2009 in a match against Minyor Pernik. The youngest manager in the Bulgarian League led Cherno More in 36 appearances for the A PFG and 3 matches of the Bulgarian Cup. Velizar remains in history as the coach who reached the most expressive win of Cherno More against the leader in Bulgarian Championship Levski Sofia. In December 2009 the sailors defeated the blue team with 4-1 in the Bulgarian Cup. In June 2010 Velizar Popov attracted in PFC Cherno more one of Brazilian superstar Mário Jardel, who was the most famous name ever having played in the Bulgarian league.

In October 2010, Popov left Bulgarian PFC Cherno More and moved to Danish Team Liberika Horsens, with which he won promotion in 2011. For the Season 2011-2012 Popov led Moldovan FC Costuleni which play in the Premier League Moldova.

New Radiant[edit]

In January 2013, Velizar Popov headed the Maldivian champion New Radiant and won the Maldivian championship with a 100% winning record, the best score ever. He also won the Maldives FA Cup and the Supercup Milo Charity Shields, making the treble. This was the third time New Radiant won the league while the very first time a club has confirmed the league title with one round yet to play and with a 100% winning record. New Radiant broke the maximum league points record of 53 points set by VB Sports in 2010 by taking the Blues league points to 57, becoming the first team in history to finish off the league with a 100 percent record. New Radiant won all 19 matches they played in this years league, scoring an outstanding 73 goals in the process and conceded only 5 goals.

In the Asian AFC Cup Popov got to impressive results for the first time in the history of Maldivian football. The team scored the biggest win ever in the AFC Cup 7–0 against Indonesian team Persib. New Radiant finished on the top of the group stage of this year's AFC cup with the best attacking record of 20 goals in 6 games and second best defensive record of the tournament receiving 4 goals in 6 games. The club won the group with 15 points from 6 games —the best score ever in Maldivian football history— and qualified for the quarterfinals for the second time in the history of Maldives football winning Selangor from Malaysia by 2-0 after extra time. Popov won 2013 Maldives Haveeru Awards - Best Coach of the year award after guiding the blues to Charity Shield, Dhivehi League and FA Cup success with a 100% winning record leading the team to AFC Cup Quarter finals and also The Special Excellence Award of New Radiant SC for the historical season winning all domestic titles with 100% record.[2]

Sur Sports Club[edit]

On 7 October, Just two days after winning the FA Cup for historic treble with New Radiant, Popov left the Maldives champion after a great season led the islanders to take on former champion of Oman, Sur Sports Club signing a one-year contract until the end of the season 2013/2014. Popov debut in one of the most attractive derby matches in Omani League defeating local rivals Al-Oruba 3-0. Just for 3 months Popov managed to climb Sur Club from 10 to 3 position in the standings and registering the best attack in the league. As a consequence, for the first time in the history of the club five players from Sur Club are already part of the Olympic national team of Oman.[3]

Suphanburi F.C.[edit]

For the season 2014, Velizar Popov had been appointed as a new head coach of Suphanburi F.C. in Thailand. Currently they are playing in the Thai Premier League. Popov led the team to the 6th position from 20 teams in the final league table for the season 2014 and led Suphanburi to their first semi final in FA Cup ever in the history of the club.

Maldives national football team[edit]

In January 2015, Popov was unveiled as the new head coach of Maldives national team, in a ceremony held before the kick off of POMIS Cup Final. 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. Maziya coach Ismail Mahfooz and former national team captain Assad Abdul Ghanee are the assistant coaches and Aslam Abdul Raheem is the goal keeper trainer. Ahmed Shakeeb remained as team's physician while New Radiant's long term serving kit manager Abdul Sattar is the new kit official.

Popov is a popular figure among Maldivian football players and supporters. 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 winning Dhivehi League, FA Cup and Charity Shield Super Cup. He also led New Radiant to the quarter finals of 2013 AFC Cup with the best attacking record in the group stage that includes a local club's biggest away win in an international tournament. New Radiant beat Indonesia's Persib by 7–0 in Solo, Indonesia.

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. Popov was very close to making one of the biggest surprises ever in the Asian football in the world cup qualifiers against Qatar. The favourite Qatar needed 9 minutes of added time to beat the Maldives in a World Cup qualifier with the lone goal coming in the ninth minute of added time, even though there was only supposed to be eight minutes of added time. In the Indian Ocean Islands Games Maldives with Popov won their first match ever in this competition after 3 participations so far beating the old rival Seychelles 2-1. On 12 August 2015, Popov resigned as the Maldives national football team coach. National team captain Ali Ashfaq ‘Dhagandey’ and keeper Imran Mohamed had criticized FAM following Popov’s decision to resign.[4]

Kelantan FA[edit]

On 12 May 2016 the Malaysian giant Kelantan FA has hired former Maldives national coach Velizar Popov to handle the Super League side until the end of the 2016 season following K.Devan’s resignation after an unsatisfactory performance of the team under his guidance.Bulgarian Popov has been tasked to ensure Kelantan finish in the top four of the Super League.Popov,a experience coach with extensive stints in Europe, Asia and Middle East, has also coached Thailand’s Suphanburi, Sur Sports Club of Oman and New Radiant of Maldives, relishes the challenge of reviving Kelantan’s fortunes this year.Devan left after making his intention to step aside known to Annuar following a 4-3 defeat to Pahang on April 20 but waited until Wednesday to make his decision public.Following a search for a successor, Tan Sri Annuar Musa made contact with Popov on Monday, with the Bulgarian arriving here the following day to hold talks.Kelantan are currently in sixth place in the Super League standings with 12 points, six points adrift of third-placed Selangor, who they meet on May 18 in Shah Alam. Popov,whose track record in Asia speaks for itself, is not an unknown figure among Malaysian football players and supporters,after eliminated the giant Selangor on 2013 AFC Cup 1/8 finals with New Radiant,in 2014 also was close to sign with Perak FA, but in the last moment had signed with Thai Premier League club Suphanburi FC. He made his debut as Kelantan Head Coach against Selangor away on May 18 in Shah Alam stadium with impressive performance played more than 70 min with 10 players after the red card of Wan Zack in the massive derby draw 0-0.Velizar Popov reached the most expressive and biggest win ever in the history of the club in away official match for Kelantan on July 15 against Terengganu 6:1 in Kuala Terengganu in the East Coast derby for the Malaysian Super League Week 14.Kelantan under Popov’s guidance became the first team to qualify for this year’s Malaysia Cup quarter-finals after 3 wins and one draw in their first 4 matches in the group stage 2 matches before the end. On 27 September 2016 Kelantan FA (KAFA) chairman Tan Sri Annuar Musa announced that KAFA have been satisfied with Popov so far, and have seen it fit to allow him to pick his own side proposed him the extension of the contract for the following 2017 season. “KAFA are satisfied with the commitment shown by Popov and would like him to pick his own ‘dream team’, to ensure 2017 is a successful year for Kelantan,” explained the chairman. The former Maldives National Team head coach joined Kelantan in May on what was described by Annuar as a ‘flexi-contract’ following the resignation of former head coach K. Devan. Apart from the extension, Popov will also be given full rein with the appointment of team staff and players both local and foreign in 2017, Annuar announced.[5]

On 23 October 2016, Kelantan FA chairman Annuar Musa has announced that the club have accepted Popov's reject to extend his contract for the new 2017 season, and Kelantan have no choice but to let head coach Velizar Popov leave, one day after he guided the side to a fourth-place finish in the 2016 Super league.Writing on his Facebook page, Annuar explained that the East Coast side have offered Popov a substantial salary raise, but Popov has cited personal and family reasons for his departure. "The reason given (by Popov) was personal and concerning his family. For your information, KAFA (Kelantan FA) have offered him a one-year contract with a 60% salary increment, given KAFA's current financial limitations," explained the chairman. However Annuar commended Popov's contribution and willingness to serve the side, despite knowing the challenges that he would be facing. "KAFA and I want to thank Popov's exemplary service. He came on the basis of a long-standing friendship, accepting a salary that was not any higher than what was received by his predeccessor, a local coach (K. Devan). "I fully understand the challenges he has been facing at Kelantan, and wish him success. He is a model professional, but maybe it is not our time yet to secure his service," conceded the chairman. Annuar ended his post by adding that no replacement coach has been identified to take over from Popov. The Bulgarian had been appointed in May as Devan's replacement, and was then given the target of finishing in a top-four position in the 2016 Super League. The conclusion of the league action on Saturday sees Popov's Kelantan finishing in fourth. Under him, Kelantan have won eight, drawn six and lost five matches in all competitions. An initial discussion between Annuar and Popov on the team's plans for 2017 around a month earlier had seemed positive, with the former announcing that the latter will continue coaching Kelantan for another year, but as it can be seen, the deal has apparently fallen through.[6]


Sisaket FC[edit]

Velizar Popov returns to the Thai Premier League as Sisaket FC Head Coach,after last coaching in the country in 2014 with Suphanburi FC.The Dangerous Koupreys are based in the Sisaket province of Thailand,and finished 13th in the league last season. In 2015 they came the closest to winning a major title, finishing runners up in the Thai League Cup.Bulgarian Popov has been tasked to ensure Sisaket FC, the Thai Premier League relegation battlers,finish out of the last 3 teams in the bottom of the table-the current position of the team at the moment after 6 matches with only 3 points after one win and five defeats.Popov last coached in Thailand in 2014, with Suphanburi FC before leaving to take up the Maldives national team head coach post in 2015.Popov then joined Kelantan mid-way through the 2016 Malaysia Super League season, overturning the Red Warriors' poor performance and guiding them to a fourth-place finish in the league, and the quarter-final stage of the 2016 Malaysia Cup.However he left the Kota Bharu-based side at the end of the season, after the club could not meet his requirements for a contract extension.


Managerial statistics[edit]

As of 31 December 2016
Team Nat From To Competition Record
G W D L GF GA GD Win %
PFC Cherno More Varna Bulgaria 16 September 2009 29 October 2010 Bulgarian A Football Group 35 15 8 12 43 43 +0 42.86
Bulgarian Cup 3 2 1 0 6 1 +5 66.67
FC Costuleni Moldova 1 June 2011 31 December 2012 Moldovan National Division 33 9 11 13 38 48 −10 27.27
New Radiant SC Maldives 10 January 2013 31 August 2013 Dhivehi League 19 19 0 0 73 5 +68 100.000
Maldives FA Cup 3 3 0 0 4 0 +4 100.000
AFC Cup 9 6 0 3 24 16 +8 66.67
Maldivian FA Charity Shield 1 1 0 0 3 1 +2 100.000
Sur Club Oman 1 September 2013 28 April 2014 Omani League 26 9 7 10 39 37 +2 34.62
Omani Federation Cup 4 3 1 0 5 2 +3 75.00
Sultan Qaboos Cup 1 0 1 0 0 0 +0 00.00
Suphanburi FC Thailand 11 May 2014 31 December 2015 Thailand Premier League 25 12 4 9 37 36 +1 48.00
Thai FA Cup 4 3 0 1 5 2 +3 75.00
Maldives national football team Maldives 28 January 2015 12 August 2015 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification (AFC) 2 0 0 2 0 3 −3 00.00
Kelantan FA Malaysia 13 May 2016 23 October 2016 Malaysia Super League 12 4 5 3 20 16 +4 33.33
Malaysia Cup 7 4 1 2 9 9 +0 57.14
Total 156 79 34 43 273 177 +96 50.64

Honours & Awards[edit]

  • 2013 Dhivehi Premier League winner
  • 2013 FA cup winner
  • 2013 Charity Shield Super Cup winner
  • 2013 Maldives Haveeru Awards - Best Coach of the year award winner
  • 2013 The Special Excellence Award of New Radiant SC for the historical season winning all domestic titles with 100% record
  • 2013 AFC Cup group stage winner with the best attacking record and qualified for the AFC Cup quarterfinals
  • 2011 FC Liberika -Horsens, Denmark- Promotion Won
  • 2008 Bulgarian Cup Runner-up
  • 2005, 2006 The Best Youth Coach-BFU Varna

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Kelantan hire Velizar Popov as new coach". New Straits Times. 12 May 2016. Retrieved 26 August 2016. 
  2. ^ "New Radiant appoints Velizar Emilov Popov as the head coach". Muscat Daily. 6 January 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2016. 
  3. ^ "Bulgaria's Popov named Sur coach". Muscat Daily. 10 October 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2016. 
  4. ^ "Popov Appointed Head Coach of Maldives". The-AFC.com. 12 May 2016. Retrieved 26 August 2016. 
  5. ^ "Kelantan extended Popov's contract". Goal.com. 1 October 2016. Retrieved 23 October 2016. 
  6. ^ "Annuar Musa accepts Popov's resignation". Goal.com. 23 October 2016. Retrieved 24 October 2016. 

External links[edit]