Bulgarian Rivals Sound a Confident Note

Bulgaria's Cherno Moro Varna is supremely confident his team will get past Maccabi Netanya when it hosts the Israeli club tonight. "We'll win within 90 minutes," boasted defensive midfielder Georgi Iliev to local journalists. The club underwrote the costs of buses to bring fans from Varna to the capital, Sofia, and also added several railroad cars to the local train. Varna's midfielder Milen Pektov is having issues, so the team will likely replace him with Petar Kostadinov. Coach Nikola Spasov is particularly bothered by the potential threat of Netanya's Francis Kioyo, and plans to assign one of his players to stay close to him during the game. Another Varna player who is sidelined is defender Radoslav Batchev. Ricardo Andre is expected to fill his slot. The Bulgarian club expressed dismay with Netanya for not supplying videotape of the team's 1-1 draw two weeks ago. If it doesn't get a copy by tonight, Varna plans to file a complaint with the UEFA observer. Litex Lovech, the other Bulgarian club facing an Israeli team in UEFA competition tonight, is ill at ease ahead of its return match with Ironi Kiryat Shmona. The Bulgarians are concerned about the oppressive heat - but also with Kiryat Shmona's performance in the first match, when the two teams drew 0-0 in Lovech. Coach Stanimir Stoilov will have to do without his left defender, Petar Zanev, and is convinced the Israelis will play much more aggressively this time around. The team may also drop from the starting lineup striker Emil Angelov, who has been out of shape. Still, Stoilov believes his club is the better of the two and will advance. "I would rather be a hammer than a nail," he said, adding that the team's recent draw in league play will serve to further motivate the team.