Sunday, 18 July 2010

Al Madina (Libya)

Libya might be a land shrouded in mystery to us Brits, and we know even less about their football. But the Libyana Premier League is rated as one of the best in the Arab world, and there are many great club sides playing within it. The two biggest names are Al Ittihad and Al Ahly, who between them have bagged 26 of the 41 national championships so far. But there's one other team who do their best to put a spanner in the big two's works, and that is Al Madina.

Formed in Tripoli in 1953, they are also famous as being the only Libyan team never to have been relegated from the top flight, and were the first team to break Al Ittihad's domination of the of the Tripoli Province Championship - Libya's major footballing tournament before the start of the Premier League in 1963. Indeed, they are considered to be the only side in the country who can beat the big two without it being considered a major surprise. They have won the title themselves on three occasions, the Libyan Cup three times, and the Super Cup the one time in 2001.

They play in the enormous 65,000 capacity 11th June Stadium in Tripoli, whose name commemorates the day the American Forces were asked to leave their military bases in Libya. It is also used as the national stadium, and was the site of not only the final of the African Cup of Nations in 1982, but more strangely, the Italian Super Cup between Juventus and Parma in 2002.

Al Madina also operate under not one, but three of the best nicknames in world football - these being, The Black Castle, The Fishermen, The Noble Guys - you'd take any team seriously if their fans called them that.

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