FUS de Rabat may not be the first team on European footballing lips but they are on the brink of something special.
Situated on the Atlantic Ocean, at the mouth of the river Bou Regreg, Morocco's capital Rabat is an elegant, tranquil city, with a cosmopolitan twist. One team attempting to live up to its city's revered surroundings is FUS de Rabat.
Formed in 1946, when the country was under the French Protectorate, the club have existed in a relatively modest firmament. Despite being one of the most recognised clubs in Morocco, FUS have found consistent fortune hard to come by, whilst staunch city rivals FAR de Rabat have been spiced with lauded success.
FUS and FAR may have won the CAF Confederation Cup once each but FAR have won the Coupe du Trône 11 times, compared to FUS, who have won it five times. FUS and their loyal supporters have had to painfully witness FAR win the Botola league title a joint record 12 times, whereas FUS have never won a league title. The club's union basketball team have won 17 league titles, so that alone, illuminates just how desperate and important it is for FUS to win the league.
However, this year, supporters are currently daring to dream because at this moment in time, FUS tantalisingly lie top of the Botola, three points clear of MA Tétouan, six points clear of reigning champions Raja Casablanca and are 16 points clear of FAR, who disappointingly lie 8th, with only eight games left to play. This emphatically signifies the refreshing, exciting, sagacious era, which is vigorously materialising at the club.
Ali Fassi-Fihri, the president of The Royal Moroccan Football Federation, is also the club's president and together with determined manager Jamal Sellami, they are creating a fascinating and inspiring platform to build potential success upon, which will aid them in securing a permanent place in the league. They are paying meticulous attention to youth, with an intense focus on spotting talent at schools and training them up in a mirthful and competitive environment. Their assured vision is all centred around establishing a robust foundation, which will engarland the club with the best possible future, for a sustained period of time.
All of this majestically ties in with the outstanding ethic of the deceased Prince Moulay Abdallah, who the club honoured, by naming their impressive 52,000 capacity stadium after. He fervently dedicated his money and time into ensuring, that the club's tradition was based upon searing spirit and effervescent efficiency before he sadly passed away in 1983. In particular, he used to organise large portions of friendly games, so that the club could garner a potent mentality for the duration of a season.
His legacy meant, that the ilk of past players, such as Hassan Akesbi (voted one of the best strikers in African football, of the past 50 years), Saïd Chiba (was an integral midfielder of the Moroccan National Team and is now manager of Qatar SC) and Hicham Zerouali (cruelly died in a car crash in 2004, at the age of 27, after making a name for himself, as a striker at Aberdeen) could flourish and reach greatness.
It is testament to Fassi-Fihri and Sellami, that Abdallah's heritage is being evoked and continued in such a strong manner, with the blueprint they are forging. This season, FUS have conveyed an astonishing, rigorous blend of attacking flair and never say die grit, which has culminated in them deservedly being at the top of the Botola table. Sellami's sleek, hungry side contains a vital mix of youth and experience, featuring the likes of defender Mohammed Benchrifa, defender Abdelfettah Boukhriss, midfielder Brahim El Bahri and striker Badr Kachani, which has propelled them to where they want to be.
It has been a bizarre and remarkable season, in the sense, that the likes of FAR, Raja, Wydad Casablanca and MAS Féz haven't hit their usual heights, so FUS have largely seized the opportunity to take advantage of the slip in standards. The worrying aspect is, that nerves are beginning to creep in, at the exact time they could do without them. This has been very evident in their last five games, four of which have been draws.
In all fairness, it is to be expected. They are on the cusp of something extremely special. They have never been in such a promising position and it is unlikely they will have a better chance to experience the glorious taste of winning the league.
2010 was the red and white side's finest year. They made stunning history, when they embarked on two extraordinary cup runs, beating MAS Féz 2-1, in the Coupe du Trône Final and CS Sfaxien 3-2 in the CAF Confederation Cup Final. If they win the league, that will eclipse all of that combined. It would be a magnificent achievement. Supporters will be praying they can hold themselves together, so that their patient dreams can become a delirious reality.
You can find Jonny on Twitter @JonnyJamesEyres.