The turn of the year is traditionally a time for taking stock and conferring honours. In Bulgaria for example, national team striker Dimitar Berbatov, who plays for Tottenham Hotspur at club level, was named player of the year for 2007 by a panel of journalists and experts. In Latvia meanwhile, Skonto Riga captain and national team member Vitalijs Astafjevs was chosen as his country’s top player of the past year. In Moldova, national team coach Igor Dobrovolsky was named coach of the year, while in Serbia, this honour was claimed by Miroslav Djukic, who coached the Serbian U-21 side to a runners-up spot in the 2007 European Under-21 Championship in the Netherlands and was appointed coach of the senior side last December.
The Football Association of Serbia is not the only one to have changed the coach of its national team. In Iceland, Olafur Johannesson has taken over the reins of the Icelandic senior side, while Bosnia-Herzegovina went even further by dismissing the head coach of every single age group except one. The position of head coach of the senior side has been entrusted to former captain Meho Kodro. In Cyprus, by contrast, there has been recognition for the work of Angelos Anastasiades, who inspired his charges to pick up 14 points in their EURO 2008 qualifying matches, a record for the Cypriot national team. This has earned Anastasiades a contract extension until 2010.
To question of how to fill the gap left by the winter break also affects women’s football. The Football Association of Slovenia has turned to futsal for a solution. For the first time, the association recently organised a futsal competition in three age groups with a view to running a women’s futsal competition throughout the year should the experiment prove a success.