Sunday, 2 May 2010

CD Nacional (Portugal)

CD Nacional are a Portuguese top flight club hailing from the remote island of Madeira, some 323 miles off the coast of Morocco. Despite being so far off the beaten  track, the island is home to two clubs in their nation's first division, Nacional, and their fierce rivals Marítimo, also from Funchal. Despite their formation in 1910, Nacional only reached the highest league in 1989. In recent years though they've become a firm fixture in the league, finishing an impressive fourth on a couple of occasions.

Being only an hour and a half's flight from Lisbon, Funchal popular location for away fans, and their recently expanded Estádio da Madeira ground nestles in the plush wooded foothills of the mountains that surround the city. Their recent success has seen them reach the UEFA cup and its successor the Europa League on three occasions now, although their only significant success in these competitions was when they beat former holders Zenit Saint Petersburg in the knockout stages in August 2009.

Their ground, also known as the Choupana, holds a cosy 5132, despite its recent upgrading, and is unusual in that it has no stands behind its goals, favouring instead a big fence and some smashing views of the surrounding area. As you would expect with both teams coming from such a small island, their derby with Marítimo is a particularly rabid one, with a huge socio-political divide between supporters of the two clubs that practically divides the island. The more middle-class and upwardly mobile Nacional fans were in favour of the commercial expansion of Madeira while the more working class Marítimo wanted to preserve the land and culture of the island. As you would imagine, this has caused even more ill-feeling between between the two already diametrically opposed sets of fans in a passionate country.

Perhaps Nacional's most famous son is a local lad you may just have heard of called Cristiano Ronaldo. After starting out in the youth team of local amateur side Andorinha, he moved to Nacional in 1997, where he caused such a stir in his immediately pre-teenage years that Sporting Lisbon snapped him up as a twelve-year-old. I believe you probably know the rest of the story. So proud of their former youth star are they that they have named their academy campus after him.

They may be an unassuming club with a tiddly ground in an out-of-the-way location, but these Madeirans are a passionate breed, and harbour ambitions for bigger and better things.

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1 comment:

  1. where can i buy a CD national football top on the internet?