Kuwaiti Premier League

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Kuwaiti Premier League
Country Kuwait
Confederation AFC
Founded 1961; 53 years ago (1961)
Number of teams 15
Levels on pyramid 1
Relegation to Kuwaiti Division One
Domestic cup(s) Kuwait Emir Cup
Kuwait Crown Prince Cup
Kuwait Federation Cup
Kuwait Super Cup
International cup(s) AFC Cup
AFC Champions League
Current champions Al Qadsia SC
(2013-14)
Most championships Al Arabi SC
Al Qadsia SC (16)
TV partners KTV Sport
Al-Watan
Al-Kass

The Kuwaiti Premier League/ VIVA Premier League is the top division of the Kuwait Football Association league pyramid system. It was created in 1961. Al Arabi holds the best record in the competition, winning it 16 times. The current Kuwaiti Premier League champions are Al Qadisiya Kuwait.

History & timeline[edit]

The Kuwaiti football league pyramid system was first established in the 1961/1962 season, under the supervision of the Kuwaiti Football Association, and therefore in full recognition and accordance with the Asian Football Confederation as well as FIFA - the world governing body of the most popular version of association football - and its laws of the game. At that time, the Kuwaiti football league pyramid system consisted of only one division, with the inclusion of several high school football teams as well as teams officially sponsored by the state university and police. Inevitably, however, many of these state-owned, non-sports-specific, football teams were liquidated and removed from the league, leaving only the well-established sports-specific football clubs behind. This was mainly attributed to the teams' poor run of performances and consequent losing streaks, thereby ending their financial and moral abilities to continue. Moreover, many Kuwaiti football fans preferred supporting sports-specific club establishments that were specifically established as sporting entities, rather than teams which were owned by non-sports-specific bodies or organizations such as police departments, high schools and colleges. Season 1963/1964 saw the last of the remaining non-sports-specific football clubs compete in the football league.

The 1960s - Dawn of a green era[edit]

The 1960s marked the beginning of the green machine, an English nickname commonly given to Al Arabi Football Club (formerly Al-Orouba SC). Al-Arabi were the first team to win the league championship in season 1961/1962 with a massive 12/12 wins in all their match fixtures, thus making them the first perfect team to go through a season undefeated and getting all 24 out of potential 24 points (at that time, the standard FIFA points system awarded 2 points per win compared to 3 nowadays). Al Arabi was also the first team to defend their title by winning it a second time in 1962/1963. Yet again, Al Arabi had a second consecutive perfect season winning 8 matches and drawing 2, having only conceded 6 goals in all 10 league matches. Their closest rivals, Al-Qadsiya, came in second position. Al Arabi won the season double in 1962, 63 and 64, having won both the League championship and Prince Cup in all 3 football seasons. In season 1963/1964, Al-Arabi won their third consecutive title but this time with a twist in competition format changes. The team in first and second played each other in a final matchup, with the deciding winner being crowned as league champions. Al Arabi met Al-Qadsia in the final, defeating them 2-1. This is the second time Al-Qadsia come close to winning the league, thus marking the beginning of the Qadsia-vs-Arabi derby.

1965-1967: The coil effect[edit]

Al Arabi recovered from a disappointing season by winning back-to-back titles from 1965 to 1967, as well as securing doubles by winning the Prince Cup trophy in 1966. In 1966, Al Arabi finished the league with 9 wins, 1 draw and only 5 goals conceded, a record for Al Arabi club. However, the team failed to defend its title for a third time, and in 1967/1968 Al-Kuwait won its second major trophy. Al-Qadsiya went on to win the league in 1968/1969, making it its first ever league win. The team won 5 games, drew 5 and lost 0. This was the first time Al Arabi goes two seasons without winning a single league trophy, however, this all changed in season 1969/1970 when Al Arabi secured its 6th league title.

Therefore the 1960s marked an era for Al-Arabi's glory years.

  • Al Arabi = 6 Trophies
  • Al Kuwait = 2 Trophies
  • Al Qadsiya = 1 Trophy

The Magical 70s - Dream teams & rivalries[edit]

A picture of all the teams kits

The 1970s marked an era of more intense rivalries in the league. With Al-Arabi facing turbulent times ahead and failing to win a single league trophy during that decade, except season 1979/1980 where they finished first, it offered other teams a chance to shine as league leaders for many years to come.

During the course of all 10 seasons, the trophy tallies were shared as follows:

  • Al Qadsiya = 5 Trophies
  • Al Kuwait = 4 Trophies
  • Al Arabi = 1 Trophy

The Glamorous 1980s - Al-Arabis resurrection[edit]

The 1980s was filled with glamour, not just in football but in the whole country overall. Under the new management 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 entire 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, 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, Al-Qadsiya and Al-Kuwait.

The 1980s also 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.

The Kazma and Salmiya years[edit]

The 1980s, however, didn't only belong to Al-Arabi. Prior to 1981, there were only 3 Big teams in Kuwait. Those were Al-Arabi, Al-Qadsiya and Al-Kuwait. However, with the turn of the 1980s, newer teams were added to the equation. The big 3 became big 5 after new giants Kazma and Salmiya forced their way into joining the elite winners of Kuwait's football league. Perhaps not as illustruous as the other big 3 teams, Kazma and Salmiya did have their own golden moments, albeit short lived and certainly not as long as the ones experienced by Dave Mackay's Al-Arabi side or Jassem Yacob's magical Qadsiya of the 1970s. However, Kazma and Salmiya did become part of the "big 5" clubs nonetheless. Kazma's and Salmiya's success in the 1980s diversified the number of different teams winning the Kuwaiti football league title. This, according to many analysts, mightve saved Kuwait's football image in the region. Had the dominance remained only within the big-3, some say, it couldve destroyed football and bored the average football spectators. Seeing a new team winning the title was always a good thing to some, and certainly a beacon of hope for other teams to follow the same model. "Change every once in a while is a good thing", was one of the local newspaper headlines back in the 1980s newspaper sports columns. This referred to Kazma's back-to-back titles won in the late 1980s. The addition of new teams winning the league and being included in the ever-expanding "winners trophy list" encouraged other hopefuls into trying to copy the Kazma and Salmiya "underdog" model. And in season 1989/1990, Jahra became the first team outside Kuwait City to win the league title. This certainly added more flavour to the league and spiced up the diversity of title challengers. The league's competitiveness was at its peak during the 1989/1990 season. Things were moving forward. Unfortunately, however, progress was halted one year later after the 1990 Gulf War and Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990.

Sponsorship[edit]

  • 1960-1980: Kuwait League
  • 1980-2013: Kuwait Premier League
  • 2013-  : VIVA Premier League

Kuwaiti Premier League clubs (2014–15)[edit]

Previous winners[edit]

Total championships[edit]

The number of national championships that clubs in Kuwait have attained.

Club
Number of Championships
Al Arabi SC 16
Al Qadsia SC 16
Al Kuwait SC 11
Kazma SC 4
Al Salmiya SC 4
Al Jahra 1

Participation list[edit]

Team Participations
Al Arabi 49 (Joined 1960)
Al Qadsia 48 (Joined 1960)
Al Kuwait 47 (Joined 1960)
Al Salmiya 44; (Joined 1964)
Kazma 41 (Joined 1964)
Al Yarmouk 33 (Joined 1965)
Al Fahaheel 32 (Joined 1964)
Al Naser 28 (Joined 1965)
Tadamon 27(Joined 1965)
Al Shabab 24 (Joined 1963)
Al Jahra 22 (Joined 1966)
Sahel 20 (Joined 1967)
Khaitan 20 (Joined 1965)
Al Salibikhaet 18 (Joined 1972)
Burgan SC 1 ( Joined 2014)

Topscorers[edit]

Year Best scorers Team Goals
1991-92 Kuwait Jassem Al Houwaidi Al-Salmiya 10
1995-96 Kuwait Jassem Al Houwaidi
BrazilCarlos Branco
Al-Salmiya
Kazma
6
1999-2000 Kuwait Bashar Abdullah Al-Salmiya 11
2000-01 Kuwait Faraj Laheeb
Kuwait Bashar Abdullah
Al-Kuwait
Al-Salmiya
10
2001-02 Malek John Kazma 10
2003-04 Kuwait Khalaf Al Salamah Al-Qadsia 12
2004-05 Syria Firas Al Khatib Al-Arabi 13
2005-06 Kuwait Hamad Al Harbi Fahaheel 22
2006-07 Kuwait Bashar Abdullah Al-Kuwait 10
2007-08 Kuwait Ahmad Ajab Al-Qadsia 14
2008-09 Brazil Careca Al-Kuwait 13
2009-10 Oman Ismail Al Ajmi Al-Kuwait 13
2010-11 Syria Firas Al Khatib Al-Qadsia 14
2011-12 Brazil Vinícius Lopes Al-Jahra SC 9
2012-13 Brazil Rogerio

kuwait SC

11
2013-14 Syria Omar al-somah

Qadsia SC

23

References[edit]

External links[edit]