Kaiserslautern's Bulgarian Coach: Relegation Close, Back Up Next SeasonSports | April 12, 2012, Thursday // 18:56| views
Even German commentators have admitted that Balakov’s mammoth task of keeping the southern Germans in the country's top flight was almost mission impossible. Photo by Getty Images
Kaiserslautern players have resigned to the fact they will be relegated from the Bundesliga and are already looking into the future, the club's recently appointed Bulgarian coach has admitted.
"We must be realistic - we are very close to the second division. But we are already thinking of the next season," said Krasimir Balakov.
Struggling Kaiserslautern are just one game away from being condemned to a life in the second division after going down 3-1 to Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday, even though the club staged its best performance ever since it is under the Bulgarian's leadership.
"I would not say that we lack the qualities to play against elite clubs. We showed some good things, we played without fear. But these small steps forward are not enough," said Balakov, who is so far the only Bulgarian coach in the history of the Bundesliga.
Bulgaria's legendary former football player Krasimir Balakov formally took over the German Bundesliga cellar dweller Kaiserslautern at the end of March.
He replaced Marco Kurz who was sacked after a 16-game winless streak.
the former midfield international, 45, who spent eight years as a player in the Bundesliga at VfB Stuttgart between 1995 and 2003, left the Croatian side Hajduk Split to take over Kaiserslautern.
Balakov is known for his key role in the greatest success of Bulgaria's national football team – the bronze medal from the 1994 World Cup in the USA, where he played alongside other Bulgarian football legends such as Hristo Stoichkov, Lyuboslav Penev, Emil Kostadinov, and Yordan Lechkov.
After playing for Sporting Lisbon, Balakov had quite a successful career in Germany. He played for VfB Stuttgart where he won two UEFA Intertoto Cups (2000 and 2002) and a DFB-Pokal (1997), before retiring in 2003.
Bala, as he is known in Germany, has a total of 92 matches and 16 goals for the Bulgarian national team between 1988 and 2003. For Stuttgart, he has a total of 236 matches and 54 goals between 1995 and 2003.
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