Sunday, 18 July 2010

AS Real Bamako (Mali)

A one-time powerhouse of Malian football, AS Real were forged from the ashes of two popular local sides - Racing and L'Avenir in 1960 in Mali's capital Bamako. They played in the final of the African Champions Cup in 1966, where they lost 5-4 on aggregate to Stade Abidjan of The Ivory Coast, and won the innaugral national championship in 1981, and were one of the first star club sides in African football.

In total they won the Malien Premiere Division six times and the Malien Cup nine times, and represented Mali in the African Cup of Champions on seven occasions. But the fun seems to have dried up since 1991 from when they have not won a single trophy. Known as the Electronic Attack in their glory days, AS Real became an easy touch in the mid-90s, and at their worst suffered a crushing 11-0 defeat to Stade Mali Bamako. The 2001-02 season almost saw the unimaginable as they were saved from relegation on the last day of the season by a stoppage time draw.

These dark days inspired a bunch of loyal fans to take charge of the club known as The Scorpions, and a foreign coach was employed - the effects being almost immediate. They finished third that season, and did similarly well the following year, before internal in-fighting led to confusion at pitch side, and Real began to tumble down the table once more after such a promising rebirth. Things aren't looking so good for them at the moment, but they've got the fans and the history to pull them out of the quagmire if they can stop the quibbling. Then, perhaps thier 35,000 capacity Stade Modibo Keita will resonate with the sound of djembe once more.

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