The firsts

Everybody or almost everybody knows that Real Madrid was the first team to win the UEFA Champions League, but how many people do know the first team to won the top football competition from each other continent? Some of them are now in the situation that they don’t even play in the top league of their country.

So, I will start with Oryx Douala, the first title holder of the African Champions Cup. It happened on 7th of February 1965, 58 years (!!!) after the team’s foundation. The event took place at Accra, Ghana’s city capital, where the final of the 1964-1965 season was held. In front of 30.000 spectators, Oryx overpass Stade Malien, the champions of Guineea. And the crowd was insignificant comparing to what was in the semifinal. That phase of the competition was also played in Accra, on the same stadium, with an assistance of 50.000 people. Oryx beat then, with only a week before the final, the local team of Real Republicans, with the same score, 2-1.

Despite being one of Cameroon’s most successful team, Oryx (the name of a genus of four large antelope species) plays now in the second division, tier in which they promoted last summer, because many years they have struggled lower in the Cameroon’s championship. Still, it remains the most successful team in the town, and the third club in the country by the titles won: 5. Only Cotonsport Garoua (11) and Canon Yaounde (10) are doing better, but the top team from the league, didn’t won ever the CAF Champions’ League.

But the tough situation that passes over Oryx right now shouldn’t be a surprise, as the club from Douala met all its’ glory in the ’60, period when they won not less than eight national trophies: five titles (1961, 1963, 1964, 1965 and 1967) and three national cups (1963, 1968 and 1970). At these distinctions we can also remind the cup achieved in 1956, a year in which Cameroon wasn’t an independent country (the independence from France was gained in 1960).

Going five years earlier, we see the first team that won the Copa Libertadores, the Champions’ League or Cup in South American style. And it is Penarol Montevideo, the great squad from Uruguay, which was named in 2009, the most successful team in the history of South America, by the IFFHS. No wonder, if we consider that the capital club won a record number of 48 national titles (!!!), from which 37 in the professional era (since 1932). Established on 28th of September 1891, Penarol is the team with the most finals of Copa Libertadores played (10), but won only five of them (the most), fact that means that they are only on the third spot in the top of winners, after Independiente (7 trophies) and Boca Juniors (6 pieces).

But, in the first season in which they won the title, at the competition took part only seven country champions: San Lorenzo (Argentina), Jorge Wilstermann (Bolivia), Bahia (Brazil), Universidad de Chile (Chile), Milionarios Bogota (Colombia), Olimpia Asuncion (Paraguay) and Penarol. In the first round, the Uruguay’s champions’ crushed Wilstermann (7-1, 1-1) and hopped into the semi finals. Here, in their road San Lorenzo appeared and showed great resistance, after a 1-1 at Montevideo and a 0-0 in the second round. Lucky for Penarol, the away goal rule wasn’t a criteria than and so a play-off match was to play, but in Montevideo. The Uruguayans were in front until the 86th minute, when the away team equalized, but the match didn’t go to extra-time, because when it was only one minute left, Alberto Spencer, the super goal scorer from Ecuador, made a double and scored for 2-1, the score that put Penarol through, in the final.

In the last act, they had to face another South-American legend: Olimpia Asuncion, the only team that in that first year on Copa Libertadores played directly into the semifinals. They should have been more relaxed, but Penarol had Spencer, who’s goal sealed a 1-0 victory at home. And in the second leg, Cubilla scored the decisive strike in the 83rd minute, when at Asuncion it was 1-0 for Olimpia. The first trophy and one of the five total that the team won until now.

Penarol had some bad seasons in recent years, but never had the problems of Oryx Douala. Still, in 2011 they played their first Copa Libertadores final, since 1987, when they won the last such trophy. Unfortunately, last year they were overpass by the Santos of brilliant Neymar.

A special case is the one of the first winner of the Asian Champions’ League. Special, because that team plays now in… Europe! But in 1967, Israel belonged to Asia not only geographically, but also as a football federation. So, Hapoel Tel Aviv won the first trophy, beating in the final a more exotic team: Selangor FA. The squad from Malaysia played in that year their first and the only final from the history of the country. And the match was held at Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. Most interesting is that at the first edition participated six teams, because the representatives of India and Iran withdraw. So, this generated the strange situation that the club from Israel, founded in 1927, played one single game in the competition: the final!

It looks like a boring competition and so it was, because between 1972 and 1986, it was dissolved because of the lack of interest. Still, not even now Asian Champions’ Cup can’t be more interesting than the sister competitions from Europe, South America and even Africa. But it might be, if we compare it to CONCACAF Champions’ League.

In North and Central America the cup was born in 1962 and gathered eight teams at the start. All played in the first round, but after the format was very strange. Even though four qualified and logically was to play two semifinals, a second tour took place in which only two teams played and the winner was willing to face another one of the qualifiers. So it resulted the final ‘champion’ of this games must face in the final Guadalajara, the Mexican side that only appeared in the first tour and beat Costa Rica’s Heradiano with an aggregate of 5-0.

But CD proved that its’ status wasn’t average, because in the last act, they beat Comunicaciones, from Guatemala with 6-0, in two games! All though, their opponents might had an excuse as they played four extra-games in the tournament.

Maybe many heard about the Mexican side based in 1906, but despite its prestige and despite the many internal trophies won, Guadalajara has only one CONCACAF Champions’ League won, the one about is was talking. A very weak performance if we say that the first three teams in the history of the tournament, by cups won, are all from Mexico: Cruz Azul and Club America, five each and Pachuca four!

Still, their honor is saved by the fact that they played the Copa Libertadores final in 2010, a performance only touched once before, in 2001, by Cruz Azul, from the teams outside South America.

So, close to Real Madrid, four teams remain in the history of football having this in common. Penarol Montevideo, Oryx Douala, CD Guadalajara and Hapoel Tel-Aviv made it to win the first edition of the Champions’ League from each of the four important football continents outside Europe.

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