Venezuela. First Division was going to be increased to 16 teams, so one was relegated and three promoted this season. The top 3 of the Second Division went up: Deportivo Galicia – champion, Minerven FC – second, and Arroceros.
First Division – championship in 2 stages. In the first the top 8 qualified to the second final stage and the bottom 6 ended the season – the last was relegated. It was UCV – Universidad Central de Venezuela (Caracas). They were absolute outsiders, finishing with 8 points and winning only a single match.
Peninsulares de Araya was 13th with 21 points, Deportivo Italia – 12th with 21 points,
Estudiantes (Merida) – 11th with 21 pointa.
Atletico Anzoategui – 10th with 24 points and ULA (Merida) – 9th with 27 points.
The top 8 continued as mini-league from scratch and the final table here was real final. In brackets teams positions in the first stage are given.
Mineros de Guayana (3rd with 31 points) finished 8th with 8 points.
Portuguesa (4th with 30 points) – 7th with 8 points.
Pepeganga Margarita (7th with 29 points) – 6th with 9 points.
Union Deportiva Lara (5th with 30 points) – 5th with 11 points.
Atletico Zamora (6th with 30 points) – 4th with 14 points.
Caracas FC (2nd with 31 points) – 3rd with 17 points.
UA Tachira (8th with 28 points) – 2nd with 20 points.

CS Maritimo (Caracas) (1st with 33 points) – 1st with 25 points. Grand season for Maritimo – they were supreme in both stages of the championship, winning the first stage with 11 wins, 11 ties and 4 losses. 28-10 goal-difference. But in the final stage they did not allowed anybody to come close – 12 wins, 1 tie, 1 lost match, 20-4 goal-difference. UA Tachira, seemingly saving their strength for the final phase, still finished 5 points behind. But most important was that Maritimo won its very first title!
First title won in such superior way deserves a second picture. Girls included.

CONCACAF Champions Cup

CONCACAF Champions Cup – Copa de Campeones y Subcampeones CONCACAF. The usual complicated formula, which gave probably unfair chances to the Caribbean teams, but in any case apart from Mexico there was no serious championship in this part of the world – NASL already disappeared, but they did not participate in this tournament anyway. USA was represented by obscure and not even fully professional teams, Canada did not participate at all. All depended on the Mexicans, really – and at the crucial moment Atletico Morelia failed to appear and was disqualified. Cruz Azul lost to Olimpia (Honduras) 0-0, 1-2. Most likely their mind was elsewhere and not really committed to this tournament. Thus, from North/Central Zone Olimpia (Honduras) and Alajuelense (Costa Rica) reached the semifinals. The Caribbean Zone had only one team at this stage – so was the formula… Defence Force (Trinidad and Tobago) won the Caribbean final, prevailing over Robin Hood (Surinam) 0-1, 3-1. And since the semifinals were still played in zonal lines, Defence Force had no opponent and directly qualified to the final. Olimpia, however, faced Alajuelense and won 1-1, 1-0. This should have been the final, if strength had to do anything with this competition, but perhaps if the weak, yet numerous, Carribbean countries had no chance they would have refused to participate at all. Anyhow… the final did not reach Trinidad and Tobago – both legs were played at Estadio Nacional, Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Money surely was the issue for Defence Force and the outcome was predictable: they lost both matches, played on 19th and 21st of December – 0-2 and 0-2.
When one looks at the records, it is impressive – Defence Force reached the CONCACAF final regularly, even won the Cup once. In terms of Carribean football, no doubt they were best for a long time, but in a larger picture it was not so. And the club was quite aware of that – otherwise why deciding to play both legs away?
Olimpia (Tegucigalpa) won the trophy without trouble and the victory was great – it was the second time they won it, having to wait a long time, for the first time they won was in 1972. Yes, their opponents were very weak and yes, the Mexicans kind of neglected the tournament, but winners are winners and it was not their fault that the others were weak or not serious. Again, in their own continental terms, Olimpia was one of the strongest clubs – perhaps only the Costarican Alajuelense was equal to them and in the direct clash Olimpia prevailed. Joy in Tegucigalpa and rightly so.

Mexico I Division

First Division. In the regular stage of the championship were decided the 8 teams qualified to the next stage plus the relegated team.
Correcaminos UAT was the relegated team this season, finishing with 29 points, but they were relegated only on worse goal-difference. Atletico Potosino survived, having better goal-difference.
As usual, the division of the league into 4 groups gave chance to teams with less points than others to go ahead. The ‘victims’ of the system were
Atlante – 7th in the ‘Tabla General’ with 40 points, but 3rd in Group 1 and
Cruz Azul – 8th in the general table also with 40 points, but 3rd in Group 2.
The others unable to reach the next stage:
Group 1: Tampico Madero (4th)
Angeles de Puebla, 5th.
Group 2:
Atlas, 4th and Atletico Potosino, 5th.
Group 3:
Necaxa, 3rd, Neza, 4th, and
Irapuato, 5th.
Group 4:
Tigres UANL, 3rd and Monterrey, 4th.
In the ¼ finals Puebla (2nd Group 3) lost to America (1st Group 3) 2-2 and 0-4.
CD Guadalajara (1st Group 1) lost to Atletico Morelia (1st Group 4) 0-1 and 1-2
Toluca (2nd Group 4) lost to U de G (1st Group 2) 0-1 and 0-1.
Tecos UAG (2nd Group 2) lost to UNAM (2nd Group 1) 1-4 and 0-2.
In the semifinals
Atletico Morelia was eliminated by America 2-2, 3-3, 1-3 penalty shoot-out, and
Universidad de Guadalajara by UNAM 2-2 and 1-2. Interestingly, in the regular season U de G had the second-best record with 50 points – but direct elimination was another matter.
The final was all-Mexico City: America vs UNAM. UNAM won the first leg 1-0, thanks to Luis Flores. The match was played at their own Estadio Olympico Universitario in front of 73 000. America hosted at Azteca and in front of 114 600 spectators destroyed UNAM 4-1. Gonzalo Farfan (2), Adrian Camacho, and Antonio Carlos Santos scored for the victors, Luis Flores – for UNAM.

UNAM ended with silver – not bad, but still disappointing.
America won its 7th title and really deserved it: they were the best team all the way. Was just a regular championship, they would have been champions, leaving the rest well behind with their 55 points. Apart from the first leg of the final, they did not lose any game during the direct elimination stages. Atletico Morelia gave them the fright, but still America prevailed in the shoot-out. Their best squad played exciting football, using 4-4-2 scheme: A. Chavez – E. Herrera, G. Huerta, A. Tena, G. Naranjo – J. Luna, C. Ortega, A.C. Santos, G. Farfan – C. Hermosillo, L. R. Alves.
Admiration for their coach Jorge Vieira – he made very attractive and successful squad and won the championship.

Mexico II Division

Mexico. Second Division. Was it a strait-forward championship, the champion was going to be the best team of the season. As it was organized, the best did not even reach the final.
Leon was the best team in the regular season by far – 21 wins, 9 ties, 8 losses, 82-46, 67 points. In the combined ‘final’ table they were 4 points ahead of the 2nd, Santos Laguna, and 13 points ahead of the 3rd – Cobras Ciudad Juarez. Unfortunately, the regular season was only the first phase of the championship -Leon won its Group 4, of course, and qualified to the next stage. Cobras was 2nd in the same group.
Santos Laguna suffered more – they were 2nd overall, much stronger than Cobras in the regular season and won their Group 1. And that pretty much the end of them…
The top 2 teams of the 4 initial groups plus the the 2 teams with best records finishing 3rd qualified to the next stage. The team with the worst record in the regular season was directly relegated and the 4 teams above them went to relegation tournament – 2 were relegated, 2 survived. Thus, Oaxaca was directly relegated and Texcoco and Aguila Progreso Industrial were relegated after the mini-tournament. Salina Cruz and F.E.G. Escaped relegation.
For 5 teams the season ended with the regular season – Zacatepec, Chetumal, Tepic, S.U.O.O., and La Piedad. La Piedad had the 8th best record after the regular season, but were in stronger group and thus unable to qualify to the next stage.
The 10 teams qualifying to the second stage were divided into 2 groups and the group winners went to play the championship final, the winner declared champion of Second Division and promoted to top flight.
Cobras won Group 1 on better goal-difference, followed by Tapatito, Santos Laguna, Orizaba, and Pioneros Cancun. Leon once again was best, winning Group 2 6 points ahead of Tecoman. Apatzingan was 3rd, followed by Jalisco and U.A.Q.
At the final Leon maintained a scoreless tie away in Ciudad Juarez, but was also unable to win at home – the second leg ended 1-1. A third match was played at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City and this time Cobras won 1-0.
Unfortunate Leon – they were best the whole long season, but lost by a single goal at the end.
Cobras Ciudad Juarez were champions of Second Division and promoted back to First Division, from which they were relegated in the previous season. They won the match which mattered most, what could you say… as for their return, it was the return of the franchise – Cobras played in the top league before they were Cobras, then the franchise was sold and renamed, then moved to Ciudad Juarez. A typical journey of a Mexican club from name to name and from city to city. Just for that one may not care much for the winners – but they had cute kit.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica. Traditional leaders met at championship final in June and Deportivo Saprissa prevailed. Or not?
The picture says Herediano won. So the existing record – the final ended 1-0 Herediano, with a goal scored by Mario Orta in the 87th minute.
However, in the list of Costa Rican champions Deportivo Sapirssa stays. Who was the champion and why?

African Player Of The Year

African Footballer of the Year. European based players came on top – on one hand, African players were increasingly playing in Europe and getting respect as professionals. On the other hand, the African championship informed the outcome of the yearly voting the best – and those who impressed there counted most. Of course, they played in Europe already. Youssouf Falikou Fofana, playing for Monaco, was 3rd with 40 points. Roger Milla (Cameroon and Montpellier) – 2nd with 68 points. May be the top African player since mid-1970, for he appeared regularly among the best three.
Kalusha Bwalya (Zambia and Cercle Brugge) won without any doubt with 111 points.
May be playing for smallish Belgian club, but also the star of exciting and unfortunate Zambian national team. If Milla was established star for years, he also represented the old by now – 25-years old Bwalya was the current wave of players not just struggling to establish themselves in Europe, but players recognized for talent and much in demand. Players more or less on equal footing with native European professionals. Bwalya was by no means one-time wonder: his best and most famous years were yet to come.

African Champions’ Cup

African Champions’ Cup. This issue was a rarity in the history of the competition – almost normal! Only Lybian champions Al-Nasr withdrew in the first round. The representatives of the leading countries reached the semifinals and there penalty shoot-outs decided the finalists: Entente Setif (Algeria) eliminated Al-Ahly (Egypt) 2-0, 0-2, and 4-2 in the penalty shoot-out. Similarly Nigerian Iwuanyanwu eliminated FAR Rabat (Morocco) 4-1, 1-4, 5-3 in the penalty shoot-out. High drama and significantly both winners prevailed away from home.
The final did not go to that: in Ibadan Iwuanyanwu won 1-0, but at Constantine they were destroyed 4-0 and the Cup went to Algeria.
Here is a moment from the finals – hard to tell what is celebrated: looks like a goal scored, but in the official records there is no goal scored in the 23rd minute in any leg.
First Leg:
Ibadan, November 26, 1988
Iwuanyanwu Nationale: Ansah, Madu, Obi, Ekpo, Godwin Eke, Uwe, Ozogula, Ukaegbu, Uwakwe Eke, Oliha, Uzokine.
Entente Sétif: Osmani, Nabti, Adjes, Bernaoui, Serrar, Boulehdjilet, Rais, Zorgane, Rahmani,
Adjissa, Doudou.
Referee: Idrissa Traoré (Mali)

Second Leg:
Constantine, December 9, 1988
Entente Sétif: Osmani, Adjas, Nabti, Bernaoui, Serrar, Boulehdjilet, Bendjaballah, Zorgane, Gherib,
Adjissa, Rahmani.
Iwuanyanwu Nationale: Ansah, Benson, Toyin, Levi, Godwin Eke, Uwe, Ekarika, Ukaegbu, Uwakwe Eke, Ekpo, Ozdgula.
Referee: Badara Sene (Senegal)
Iwuanyanwu Nationale (Owerri) confirmed the steady ascent of Nigerian football. They lost, but still reaching the final was a triumph.
ES Setif was the second Algerian club winning African cup. Back in 1976 Mouloudia d’Algiers won after penalty shoot-out drama – ES Setif bettered that with a clean victory.
In the home leg they were supreme, leaving no doubt who deserves the trophy. Their first! And in the year when they were relegated from First Division, as it happened.

African Cup Winners Cup

African Cup Winners Cup. Same old, same old… Douanes (Mauritania) left the field at the 64th minute of the first leg against Wallidan (Gambia), losing 0-3 in the preliminary round. Dragons de d’Ouleme (Benin), Hearts of Oak (Ghana), KAC Marrakech (Morocco) withdrew without playing in the first round. US Mbila Nzambi (Gabon) played at home the opening leg against Inter Club (Congo Brazzaville), which ended 1-1 and withdrew. Wallidan (Gambia), after benefiting from opponent’s withdrawal in the preliminary round, withdrew without playing in the ¼ finals. Never mind the usual, the tournament meandered to its finals stages – in the semifinals Diamant Yaounde (Cameroon) was eliminated by CA Bizerte 1-0 and 0-3, and Inter Club (Congo Brazzaville) lost to Ranchers Bees (Nigeria) 1-0 and 0-2. Thus, the final opposed Nigerian to Tunisian team. Visiting Kaduna, CA Bizerte managed a 0-0 draw and then prevailed at home 1-0.
Ranchers Bees – or Rancher’s Bees – from Kaduna lost the final by a single goal. It was great success for one of the less known African clubs.
Exotic name, no doubt, but also very hard to find – little chance this photo is from their may be greatest season. Not sure even if it was from the period – but, conditionally, let have it.
Club Athletique Bizertin, usually known just as CA Bizerte, achieved its greatest success in their already 60-years of existence.
It was great historic success on two accounts – not only CA Bizerte won its first continental trophy, but it was the first time Tunisian club won. And it was just the second time Tunisian team reached a final – in the previous year in the same tournament Esperance Sportive lost. Great and proud moment for both club and country.


Algeria. The top league was going to be reduced from 18 to 16 teams the next season, so 5 teams were relegated (Skidka, WA Ilemcen, CR Belcourt, ASO Chlef, and EP Setif) and 3 promoted from second level (MO Constantine, RS Kouba, and USM Sidi Bel Abbes).
MC Alger finished 13th with 34 points and escaped relegation only because… who knows because. They finished with absolutely identical record with unfortunate EP Setif. Unless head-to-head results were considered, it was a mystery.
The other mystery concerns Entente Setif – there was only EP Setif, but not ES Setif in the league. For lack of other indications, this team should be considered the one and the same which concurred Africa this year – and was strangely relegated from the Algerian First Division, taking 14th place.
On the top – kind of a surprise. MC Oran kind of dominated the championship.
Standing from left: Benmimoun – Belatoui – Bott – Meziane – Belabbès – Drid. First row: Mecheri – Sebbah – Belloumi – Foussi – Chérif El-Ouazzani.
Instantly conisidered a great squad, they won the title after 16 wins, 9 ties, 9 losses, 44-28, and 41 points – 4 points ahead of the nearest pursuer JE Tizi Ouzou. Belloumi was the big star in the squad, but it was only the 2nd title MC Oran won – and had to wait 17 years for this one. They won their first in distant 1970-71.