Who are South Africa’s Real Madrid?

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Zinedine Zidane's Real meet Atletico Madrid once again, but over 12,000km away there is another team that shares the same name as Los Merengues

When Real Madrid defeated Bayern Munich to set up their annual Champions League fixture with local rivals Atletico Madrid, many people said that they were lucky to progress past the German giants in extra-time.

Over 12,000km away, there is another Real Madrid story relating to Lucky circumstances. But that one is not as well known.

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Lucky Mohayi is the owner of a South African amateur club with a very familiar name. Back in 1989, the team known as Ipogeng Stars rebranded, taking on the name of its president's favourite team: Real Madrid.

Whereas the Galacticos of La Liga can spend millions on players, the Valentines Boys of the Vodacom League are primarly made up of Under-23 players, and have few famous exports. Their most notable former player was Thabo Mosegomi, who once lined out in the South African Premier Soccer League, but has since fallen back down the ranks.

Probably the most notable thing about Real Madrid's South African namesake is the fact that their kit looks a lot like that of Real's rivals, Atletico. Playing in a red and white strip, which gets plenty of attention when they feature in the country's equivalent of the FA Cup, the Nedbank Cup. There, amateur clubs compete with professional ones, with other strangely titled teams lining out.

Real Madrid's best season came in 2009, when they reached the last 32 of the competition having knocked out the Black Mountain Eagles, a team comprised of miners, who play football when they are not working. Despite Real's progress, they went no further, losing 1-0 to Peace Lovers in the First Round proper.

Any particular year, Real Madrid might be pitted against Blackburn Rovers, Blackpool, Santos, or Vasco da Gama. However, unlike their Spanish counterparts, this Real Madrid will luckily avoid the prospect of meeting Atletico Madrid.

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Interestingly, there is more than one Atletico Madrid too. In Mexico, there is a team whose full name reads El Club Atletico de Madrid lanza las Escuelas de Fútbol en Mexico. They're better known as Atletico Madrid. But unlike the South African Real, they have fully embraced their similarities - even using the same club crest as Diego Simeone's side.

South Africa's Real Madrid have never again reached the heights of their 2008-09 season, but the Spanish version will be hoping they can extend their excellent European run over Atletico with another win in the Champions League semi-final.

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