Kuwaiti Premier League - The Glamarous 1980s - Al-Arabis Resurrection

Al-Arabis Resurrection

The 1980s was filled with glamour, not just in football but in the whole country overall. Under the new managerialship of Dave Mackay, Al-Arabi won seven league trophies, 2 Prince Cups and 1 Gulf Club Championship. Al-Arabi became the first team to win a major international football event, in its debut season.

As a Scotsman, many modern-day football analysts look back at the 1980s golden years and compare Dave Mackay to his compatriot Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United. Some even call him the "Sir Alex of Kuwait". Indeed, Dave Mackay became known as not only the most successful manager in Al-Arabi's history but also the most successful club manager in Kuwait's whole football history.

The 1980s also saw Al-Arabi break their own record of winning 3 consecutive league titles by achieving a four league championship winning streak in the mid-1980s. Al-Arabi dominated the 1980s decade, and only gave away 3 seasons to Salmiya and Kazma. No team has genuinely challenged Al-Arabi for their title defending, as Al-Qadsiya and Al-Kuwait were mainly out of the picture and overshadowed by Kazma and Salmiya, two newly emerging sides which later became known as the "new big three" (Al-Arabi, Salmiya and Kazma). Today, however, Kazma and Salmiya are part of Kuwait's big five, which includes Al-Arabi, AlQadsiya and AlKuwait.

The 1980s marked the beginning of a new competition league format. More teams were added to the stirr, therefore teams had to shift from playing a maximum of 14 league games throughout the 1960s and 1970s to almost double the number of matches in the 1980s (a total of 26 matches per season). This made it harder for Al-Arabi or any other team to remain undefeated the whole season. Therefore winning perfect seasons was almost deemed impossible. However, Al-Arabi never stopped trying and in 1984/85 came close to being undefeated after winning 24 matches, drawing 4 and only losing 1. This season was also special since Al-Arabi managed to concede only 7 goals throughout the whole season, meaning they became the best defensive team in Kuwait's football history, as well as the first to have 19 clean sheets in one season (a record until today). Al-Arabi also went 7 games with consecutive wins and followed by 10 games with consecutive wins. The team also went 24 straight games undefeated, another record until today.

Towards the late 1980s, the league went down from 26 matches played a season back to only 14. This came after the split of the league into a lower division and higher division (premier league). Therefore the number of teams went from 14 down to 8, and the format has been brought back to how it was in the 1960s and 1970s. However, this did not help end Al-Qadsiya's inconsistency as things became worst in the late 1980s when Al-Qadsiya was nearly relegated for the first time in its football history in season 1987/1988 where they finished 7th out of 8 places. Al-Qadsiya only managed to finish in the top 2 once throughout the 1980s, and that was two seasons earlier in 1985/1986. Al-Kuwait was also suffering and not its usual self.

Al-Arabi did manage one perfect season in the 1980s, that was during season 1988/1989 where Al-Arabi finished with 12 wins and 2 draws and 0 losses. However, this season had something more special to it. Al-Arabi spiced things up by conceding only one goal throughout their 14 match fixtures, a new record until this date. They also went 8 matches on a consecutive winning streak that same season.

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