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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 October, 2004, 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
Asec's amazing run
By James Copnall
BBC West African football correspondent in Abidjan

Former Asec Abidjan player Abdoulaye Traore
Abdoulaye Traore was part of the Asec side that went 108 matches unbeaten

Even if Arsenal had not lost to Manchester United 2-0 on Sunday, to bring their 49 match unbeaten record to an end they would still, have had a long way to go beat the world record held by an African club.

Asec Abidjan from the Ivory Coast went 108 matches without losing between 1989 and 1994.

Asec's series, a world record, included games in both league and domestic cups.

The Ivorians boasted the likes of Abdoulaye Traore, Alain Gouamane, Donald Sie and Gadji Celi, all regular internationals.

Asec had an up and coming coaching talent too: Frenchman Phillipe Troussier, who went on to coach Burkina Faso, Nigeria, South Africa and Japan.

That combination, alongside a dynamic president in Roger Ouegnin, made Asec impossible to beat in domestic competition for nearly five years.

Asec's dominance did not end when the unbeaten streak came to an end with a 2-1 loss on 19 June 1994 against SO Armee either.

The Abidjan side have now won 13 of the last 15 championships.

Impressive though that is, the 108 games without defeat are what earn Asec a place in the record books.

"Our side was overflowing with internationals, we had a mythical coach, and a great President," star attacker Traore told BBC Sport.

"We had the best conditions, including the best bonuses, and our supporters really pushed us on.

"What pleases me most is that we played such good football."

Asec Abidjan fans celebrating
Fans of Asec Abidjan have another unbeaten season to celebrate

Indeed Asec responded to the streak-ending loss with a 11-0 thrashing of Man, with Traore scoring a record 8 goals.

The incredible 108 game run brought four league titles and three cups.

Yet if there was a dark lining to the silver cloud, it was in the inability of Ivory Coast's best - like the modern Arsenal side - to win continental glory.

Throughout their great run Asec proved unable to win an African Cup - though that honour was to come later, in 1998.

Such an incredible record inevitably encouraged people to say it was proof positive of the weakness of the Ivorian league.

Mamadou Kone, the president of the Asec supporters club, begs to differ.

"People say that our championship was too weak, which is why we won so much.

"But if Arsenal reach 50 games unbeaten they will say Arsenal is too strong.

"This is a complex we have in Africa, but never mind!"

Asec also matched Arsenal's feat from last season as they also completed the whole of the 26 game 2003/4 league season unbeaten.

Could a new unbeaten run be on the cards?

Asec stay unbeaten
14 Oct 04 |  African
Ivorian academy breeding success
26 Apr 04 |  African
Asec win Ivorian title
10 Nov 03 |  African

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