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Krasimir Balakov to lead Lokomotiv Sofia after Danilo Dončić's departure

22. April 2024
Krasimir Balakov (foto: uradna spletna stran kluba)
Danilo Dončić exits his role as head coach of Lokomotiv Sofia, with Krasimir Balakov set to take over. The change comes as the team prepares for potential relegation play-offs after a challenging season.
Serbian coach Danilo Dončić is no longer the head coach of Lokomotiv Sofia, the Bulgarian first league club has officially announced. He will be succeeded by Bulgarian football legend Krasimir Balakov. Following the completion of the first phase of the Bulgarian championship, which includes 30 rounds, Dončić's team found itself in the relegation play-offs, ultimately leading to his departure.

The goal for Lokomotiv was to secure at least 10th place to ensure survival without concerns, but they fell short by five points. Entering the table's split into three parts, they were in 14th place. Remaining in this position after the play-offs would require Lokomotiv to face a relegation play-off against a second division team.

"The club's management has decided to part ways with the head coach. Assistant coach and chief analyst Ivaylo Zahariyev, goalkeeping coach Vladimir Manolkov, and fitness coach Nikolay Georgiev will also depart. We wish them all the best in the future. The new head coach will be Bulgarian football legend Krasimir Balakov. Details of his technical staff will be announced later," Lokomotiv announced this Monday.

This marks the end of Dončić's third stint with Lokomotiv. Previously, he played for the club from the summer of 1997 to the summer of 1999, and then from 2008 to 2010, he served as an assistant to Dragomir Okuka. Dončić built his independent coaching career outside Serbia, in Greece, Bahrain, and Malta, coaching teams such as Ethnikos, Sliema Wanderers, Al Najma, Mosta, and Valletta, with whom he won a double in 2018.

Four years his senior, Balakov left a significant mark as a player at Stuttgart, where he played from 1995 to 2003 and began his coaching career as an assistant to Felix Magath. He later took on head coaching roles at clubs including Grasshoppers, St. Gallen, Hajduk Split, Kaiserslautern, Litex, CSKA 1948, Septemvri, and the Bulgarian national team. To date, he has yet to win a trophy as a coach.
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