The city’s First Division team will play the Champions League qualifying round for the first time in its history.
When Malaga FC achieved that agonic draw against Real Madrid in the last match of the Spanish BBVA League season only two years ago, thus avoiding relegation and an uncertain future, few people could have dreamt that the team would be capable of its recent epic achievement: nothing less than winning a place in the qualifying round of the Champions League for the first time in its history.
Obviously, the circumstances have changed radically since the afternoon in which the incredible goal scored by the Portuguese player Duda saved the team from certain relegation. That draw paved the way from the sale of the club to Sheik Abdullah ben Nasser Al Thani, a wealthy Qatari businessman. After several teething problems, including a disappointing start to the season and the consequent sacking of Portuguese trainer Jesualdo Ferreira, it was the turn of Chilean Manuel Pellegrini, together with a number of winter signings, who together would lay the foundations for the coming revolution.
Although the trainer has stressed on a number occasions that there was not any fixed objective for the 2011-2012 season, only a year and a half after taking up his post, Pellegrini has managed to take the club to another level.
Evidently, Malaga FC’s achievement will not only fulfill the city’s football aspirations, but will also benefit the city as a whole. In addition to the fans that will visit the city to watch the matches, the presence of Malaga FC in the European football elite will boost the international promotion of the city and the Costa del Sol, generating activity above all in the hospitality, service and business tourism industries.
Sheikh Abdullah ben Nasser Al Thani, owner of the club, the Sheikh with Abdullah Ghubn, vice-president of Malaga CF, and Manuel Pellegrini, the club’s trainer. Photos courtesy of MALAGACF.COM