The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has announced that the capital of Egypt, Cairo, will be used to host the upcoming African Football League.
The Egyptian city will host some of Africa’s football’s top officials and ambassadors at the historic event scheduled for 2nd September, 2023. The League was originally launched as the CAF Africa Super League (ASL) before the change of name to African Football League (AFL).
The organizing body of the league considered African teams in the continent that have performed excellently in the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup over recent years.
The clubs that met the criteria for selection include Al Ahly (Egypt), Atlético Petróleos de Luanda (Angola), Enyimba (Nigeria), Espérance Sportive de Tunis (Tunisia), Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa), Simba Sports Club (Tanzania), Tout Puissant Mazembe (DR Congo) and Wydad Athletic Club (Morocco).
The initial plan was to run a proposed 24-club tournament, but after several consultations and series of deliberations, the organizers unanimously agreed to prune the number down to eight teams, with subsequent editions likely to facilitate an expanded number of teams.
CAF also indicted that the inaugural edition of the ASL will kick off in Dar Es Salam in Tanzania, on October 20th, 2023.
The tournament will be played in a two-legged knockout format ( home-and-away) over four weeks from the start date.
The tournament will begin at the quarterfinals stage, where qualified teams will advance to the semi-finals.
The grand finale will be played over two legs and will take place on November 5 and 11, 2023.
CAF stated that the inaugural edition of the African Football League will be a forerunner of the fully packed league competition, which will feature the 24 highest-ranked football clubs in Africa and begin during the 2024/2025 football season.
The League is set to run concurrently with CAF’s Champions League.
CAF President Patrice Motsepe described the league as an advanced step in the quest to improve African football as a product and make it more appealing to the global world.
“We have recognised for many years that African football players have been among the best in the world, but we have to improve the appeal of African football, its commercial viability and its capacity to sustain itself.”
According to the CAF President, the winner of the tournament will receive $11 million as prize money, which is more than twice the amount Teranga Lions of Senegal earned for winning the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) last year.
Each club by virtue of participation will automatically get 2.5 million dollars prior to the event.
A big blow for Ghanaian teams
Ghanaian clubs could not earn a spot in this tournament due to the poor performance of our league and FA cup winners in the CAF Inter Club Competitions over the decade.
Accra Hearts of Oak, popularly known as “phobia”, failed to represent Ghana or West Africa for that matter in the AFL. The inability of the ‘continental club masters’ to participate in the AFL is due to their poor performance in the Champions League and Confederation Cup despite being the only and first club to have won the continental treble in West Africa.
The Accra based club won the CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup in the year 2000 and 2004 respectively.
On the other hand, Asante Kotoko has also won the CAF Champions League on two occasions which are 1970 and 1983.
Asante Kotoko remain the last club to reach the quarter finals of the Confederations cup which was in the 2016/2017 season under coach CK Akonnor.
Despite being adjudged by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) as the club of the century in 2010, Asante Kotoko failed to gain a slot in the maiden edition of the AFL.
The performance of Dreams FC and Medeama Soccer Club in Africa this season can boost the chances of Ghanaian teams qualifying for the next edition of the African Football league.
Eyimba FC has been selected to represent the Western Zone of Africa (WAFU), despite varrying opinions as to whether they deserve the slot.
Eyimba FC was singled out for their strong performance and longstanding reputation in the CAF competitions having won the famous CAF champions league trophy in 2003 and 2004 consecutively. Aside defending the trophy, they have been very consistent in Africa, appearing in the quarter finals of the Confederations Cup three times consecutively and progressing to the semi-finals in 2018.
Since 2006, the Ghanaian clubs have been struggling to clutch at the ‘Power house’ straw, with a string of disappointing performances.
This struggle was quite evident when the very recent representatives of Kumasi Asante Kotoko crushed out of the CAF champions league in the first round of the competition, emphasizing the dip Ghanaian football clubs are experiencing in recent times.
Story by : Asack Pius | univers.ug.edu.gh