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Atletico Sport Aviacao, Angola Champions
The side is from Luanda, capital of Angola, and one of the major players in the Angolan league. The current champions won the 2004 season title by a three point margin over Sagrada Esperanca. How have they fared over the years. From what is available from various sources, heres how their story goes:
In the pre-independence days, the club won 4 championships on the trot from 1965-1968 under the name Atletico De Luanda. After independence, though, the club have had more difficulty winning silverware. In the early 80's , the club had to play second fiddle to other Luanda clubs like Petro Atletico and Primiero De Agosto. While those clubs were winning titles, Aviacao were not even in the top flight as late as 1984. In fact, not until 1991 did Aviacao achieve promotion to the Girabola, the top level of Angolan football, alongwith Desportivo Do Nocal and Inter Huila.
Their first season in the top flight though was an unqualified success. They finished runners-up in the league to Primiero Agosto, edging out Petro Atletico on goal difference, having finished with 40 points for the season.Notable victories over Deportivo Nocal, Desportivo Eka and Sporting Benguela paved the way for their impressive display.
The next season ,1993, saw the club finish in a highly creditable 4th place, behind familiar opponents Petro,Primiero and surprise packages Desportivo E.K.A. As it was the season, when civil war was raging in Angola, only 21 games could be played and sides from Huambo, Petro and Benfica, could not participate. Aviacao garnered 21 points from their 21 matches and although they finished high, a closer look at the table shows that they only finished 4 points above the relegation spot and a whopping 11 points off top. Demoralizing defeats at the hands of E.K.A., Primiero Agosto and Primiero Maio and even relegated Nacional Benguela didnt help their cause a lot. Still there was a high point in the season, when Aviacao managed to reach the National Cup final against city rivals Petro Atletico, going for the double. Although Aviacao took an early lead, it was their rivals who eventually turned the game around and ran away 2-1 winners to complete their double.
Season 1994 was a disappointment for the club, as they failed to mount a credible challenge for the title and faded away to mid-table obscurity, the low point being home and away defeats to old nemesis E.K.A. In the cup too, Aviacao failed to make it through to the final, losing their semi-final 2-0 to defending champions Petro Atletico. Things could only look up for the club.
And they did. Aviacao finished in 3rd spot, reaffiriming their status as a rising force. This time they came even closer, losing the title by just 2 points and finishing behind Primiero Agosto on goal difference on 41 points. In fact, at one stage, Aviacao lead the table, only to lose and regain the lead again. But they finally had to succumb to a resurgent Petro Atletico. The club enjoyed some good wins against Nacional Benguela (5-1) and Progresso Sambizanga (2-0) and 4-0 against Academico Lobito. The low point of the season was a 1-0 defeat to relegated Sporting Lubango, which eventually cost them. But the best was yet to come. When on 11th november, in the Estadio Da Cidadela in Luanda, Aviacao beat Independente Tombwa 3-1 to claim their first ever National Cup. They were now firmly a force to be reckoned with.
The next season didnt bring any silverware, the club failed to defend their Cup title and failed to challenge for the Girabola title.The season after that, 1997, the 6th in the top flight, saw another disappointing campaign, the club finishing in their worst ever position of 8th. The club had to look nervously below them for the bottom 3 sides not to catch them.They did however, reach the Cup semifinal, where they lost to Primiero Agosto 2-1.
The club couldnt remain down for too long though. They bounced back in 1998 to claim 3rd place again in the league behind perpetual rivals Primiero (who won the championship) and Petro Atletico. The gap between them and the champions though was a staggering 12 points.The characterizing point of their season was their lack of consistency and poor matches against their direct rivals for the title. Brilliant one week and mediocre the next. The club also failed to reach the Cup quarterfinals that year.
It seemed next season that the club was suffering from some nervousness when it came to challenging for the title. The club let down their fans and the pundits by finishing in 6th spot, finishing a full 17 points behind defending champs Primiero Agosto. A big headache was an inability to kill off games as the club drew 10 times out of 28 matches. The cup proved to be a different matter altogether. A pairing with old rivals Petro Atletico was tricky enough but the club thrilled their fans with a tenacious penalty shootout win. Then they disposed of surprise 2nd level Academica Soyo 1-0 to reach the Semifinal only to completely demolish Independente Tombwa 4-0 in the process. However, as so often in the past, the club just failed to go that extra yard as they let Sagranda Esperanca take the Cup from their grasp with a 1-0 defeat, in front of 3000 spectators.
The club were not too much disheartened by their near misses. The first season of the new millenium saw the club edge their way to 2nd spot, albeit a massive 19 points off the pace, Petro Atletico taking yet another title.Home and away defeats to the champions undermined their cause. In the Cup, Aviacao disposed of Progresso Sambizanga easily 2-0 in the 2nd round but to their huge disappointment, lost out on penalties to Sporting Bie after a 1-1 normal time score.
Aviacao continued to remain a threat the next season when they again finished 2nd behind Petro Atletico finishing 7 points behind. They drew both their games with the leaders and also managed to pulverize a lot of their opponents with heavy victories. One blemish on their record was a crushing 6-2 home defeat at the hands of Benfica Lubango. In the Cup, Aviacao edged out F.C. Cabinda on penalties in the first round before fate did them justice and ironically they lost out in another penalty shootout to yet another Cabinda side, this time it was Sporting.
But then it was watershed. In the 14th edition of the Girabola, Aviacao finally answered the calls of their fans and after near misses, claimed the title of the best team in the land by winning the 2002 championship by 4 points from Primiero Agosto.Defending champs Petro Atletico finished 6 points off the pace. The highlight of the schedule was Aviacao's victory over Petro in the crucial return fixture.Petro did take their revenge in the Cup though, dumping Aviacao out in the second round 3-1. But that was not the end of the rivalry between the 2 clubs that season. As Petro had won the cup, the 2 sides squared off for the Super Cup too and this time in a titanic struggle, Aviacao prevailed over the 2 legs on a nerve wracking penalty shootout.
Season 2003 and Aviacao showed everyone they meant business. And they did just enough to retain their title, this time by just a single point from arch rivals Petro Atletico. In fact, had it not been for more consistency for the club earlier, they may well have lost the title as Petro inflicted a 2-0 defeat in the last fixture of the season.In the cup, Aviacao were looking for a historic double to proclaim their dominance. They almost didnt make it through their first encounter, edging Benfica Luanda on penalty kicks and then disposed of Ritondo Malanje 2-1 to reach the semis where luck deserted them and after an epic battle with Sagrada Esperanca, they went out on penalties. The Super Cup pitted them against Inter Clube Angola and Aviacao showed everyone their intent by totally outclassing their opponents 6-1 on aggregate.
2004 saw the club establish themselves as a dynasty ,retaining the title by 3 points over Sagrada Esperanca. Aviacao easily outscored all their opponents and lost just twice in the whole season.The Cup though, eluded them again. Inter Clube Angola put paid to their hopes with yet another penalty shootout win. Aviacao also played in the newly formed Coca Cola Cup and lost out in the 1st round to Progresso Sambizanga on penalties. They will come up against Desportivo Sonangol Namibe in the Super Cup final.
Breakup: Titles: 7 (4 as Atletico Luanda pre-independence)
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