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Meet The Invincibles: See Three Football Teams Unbeaten In One Season

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Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen of 2023-24 stand on the cusp of greatness, with just 11 matches theoretically between them and a record undefeated season for a top-five European league team.

Of the 42 matches they have so far played this campaign, they have won 37, drawn five and lost a grand total of zero.

Bayer could win the Bundesliga for the first time in their history this weekend when they take on Werder Bremen, while they won their Europa League quarter-final first leg against West Ham 2-0 and face second-division Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final on May 25.

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Should their record stay unblemished across their remaining fixtures in all three competitions they will become the first side to go a full season undefeated both domestically and in European competition.

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It is a scenario few, if any, would have ever predicated at the start of the season, with German giants Bayern Munich having won the last 11 league titles and no Bundesliga team ever even completing a domestic league season without losing at least once.

In the history of the sport worldwide, many teams have gone an entire league season without losing, such as Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal “Invincibles” of 2003-04, but to do it across multiple competitions is rarified territory.

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AFP Sport highlights three teams that completed a full season without tasting defeat across several competitions:

– Al Ahly –

Egyptian giants Al Ahly won the league and the CAF Champions League without any losses in 2004-05, but were denied from completing the treble only by a penalty shoot-out elimination in the Egypt Cup after their round of 16 tie ended in a draw.

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That season in the league, they finished a staggering 31 points clear of second-placed Enppi SC and failed to win only two of 26 matches.

The dominant double was made all the sweeter by a CAF Champions League semi-final victory against bitter Cairo rivals Zamalek by an aggregate score of four goals to one.

– Preston North End –

One must go back to the 19th century to find such an example in the English game, indeed all the way back to the very advent of the English League in 1888.

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Preston North End won a league and cup double in the 1888-89 season, which saw them go undefeated through 22 league matches and claim the FA Cup final 3-0 against Wolverhampton Wanderers at London’s Kennington Oval.

– Johor Darul Ta’zim –

Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim completed an undefeated domestic quadruple in the 2023 Malaysian season.

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With the domestic league and cup running from February to December 2023, Johor Darul Ta’zim won a staggering 37 out of 38 games on their way to claiming the country’s Super Cup, Piala Malaysia Cup, FA cup and league title.

Sadly, their domestic dominance didn’t translate to the bigger challenges of the Asian Champions League where they won three group games but lost three.
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CAF Women Champions League: Edo Queens Get Hero’s Welcome, Obaseki Doles Out Cash Reward On Team

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Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki (right); his wife, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki (2nd left); Chairman, Edo Sports Commission, Yusuf Alli (left), with players of Edo Queens, during a celebration in honour of the victorious Edo Queens, at the Government House, Benin City, Thursday, May 30, 2024.

The Edo State female football team, Edo Queens, were on Thursday warmly welcomed back to the state amid pomp and pageantry by thousands of fans and other residents after they made history with their triumph at the Super Six Playoffs to clinch a ticket to represent Nigeria on the continental stage of the CAF Women Champions League.

The jubilant fans, led by the Edo State First Lady, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki, joined a motorcade of the victorious Edo Queens from Western Boys High School, in Ikpoba-Hill and cheered the team through Aduwawa, Akpakpava, Plymouth, Ring Road and terminated at the Government House, Benin City, where they were received by Governor Obaseki.

Obaseki was joined by the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Asue Ighodalo, and other top government officials to receive the triumphant girls where he doled out cash reward on the victorious team.

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The governor, who praised the team for their excellent campaign at the 2023/2024 season of the Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL) and victory at the Super Six Tournament, assured them of the state government’s sustained support.

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He said, “I am so happy and proud today as you have done us proud by bringing this trophy home. The trophy we have been looking for in the past 29 years is now with us. We know you will continue to be champions. I encourage you to work hard as your government and Governor will continue to support you.

“Whether I am here or not, the person that will replace me will continue to support you. You have tried and have made us proud. Money alone can’t do it all but we will give you money for a job well done and for making us proud.”

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He stated, “Each player of the team will get one million naira (N1,000,000.00) for the achievement, while the coaches will get five million naira (N5,000,000.00).”

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Lookman, Boniface, Other Nigerian Footballers Who Won Major Trophies In Europe

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Super Eagles forward Ademola Lookman won the UEFA Europa League with Italian side Atalanta last Wednesday, capping off what many have described as a fairly successful football season for Nigerian footballers in Europe.

Lookman’s success comes on the back of victories for Victor Boniface and Nathan Tella, who were part of Bayer Leverkusen’s ‘invincibles’ squad in the Bundesliga.

Here is a list of Nigerian players who tasted glory with their clubs in Europe in the 2023–24 season.

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Victor Boniface and Nathan Tella (Bayer Leverkusen)

Victor Boniface and Nathan were part of the Leverkusen side that won the Bundesliga title for the first time in the club’s history. Xabi Alonso’s side won the league, becoming the first team in the competition’s history to go unbeaten in a season.

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Boniface scored 14 goals and registered 8 assists; Tella, on the other hand, scored 5 goals and provided 2 assists for Leverkusen. The club missed out on an unprecedented treble after a 3-0 loss to Ademola Lookman’s Atalanta in the Europa League final. Days later, Leverkusen lifted the DFB Pokal.

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Ademola Lookman (Atalanta)

Lookman was the hero for Atalanta, scoring a hat-trick in the final as the team defeated Bayer Leverkusen to win its first-ever European trophy.

Lookman also added 10 goals in the league as La Dea finished fourth in the Serie A.

Peter Olayinka (Red Star Belgrade)

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The 28-year-old forward played the entire duration of Red Star Belgrade’s 2-1 win over Vojvodina in the Serbian Cup Final.

He also scored a brace for his side in a 4-1 win over Cukaricki to win the Serbian Super League title. He joined Boniface and Tella as the only Nigerian footballers to win the double.

Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanachio (Leicester City)

In the English Championship, Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho helped Leicester earn a return to the Premier League.

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Ndidi scored 5 goals and recorded 5 assists, while Iheanacho, who saw limited gametime, scored 5 times for the Foxes.

William Troost-Ekong (PAOK FC)

In Greece, Supeer Eagles defender William Troost Ekong returned from injury to help his side clinch the Greek Super League title.

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Ekong was crowned the best player of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), as Nigeria finished as runners-up in the tournament.

Raphael Onyedika (Club Brugge)

Raphael Onyedika featured 30 times and scored three goals as Club Brugge clinched the Belgian League.

Christy Ucheibe (Christy Uchebe)

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In addition to the men’s team, Christy Ucheibe, the midfield powerhouse of the Super Falcons, secured four trophies in Portugal.

Her team S. L. Benfica won the Liga BPI (Portuguese league), Taca de Portugal Feminina (Portuguese Women’s Cup), Taca de Liga Feminina (Portuguese Women’s League Cup), and the Super Taca de Portugal Feminina (Portuguese Women’s Super Cup).

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Joy As NFF Gifts Super Eagles Coach, Finidi George Car Worth N125m

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The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has presented the newly appointed Super Eagles coach, Finidi George, an official luxurious Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon car worth N125m

The gift is part of the NFF’s commitment to prioritizing the welfare of its employees, ensuring they receive the best treatment to excel in their roles.

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The NFF’s gesture is seen as a demonstration of its dedication to supporting its employees and ensuring their well-being.

Reacting, Finidi George expressed gratitude to the NFF for their generosity, and confirmed that the federation is actively searching for a good apartment for him in the country’s capital.

 

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