Africa as a continent has birthed world-class footballers who have made their debut for their home country in the World Cup. Players like Samuel Eto’o, Didier Drogba, and now Mohamed Salah, have represented their countries well and gone on to play for European professional clubs. Nonetheless, football is a major deal in Africa, where people live and breathe the game…with a fan base following that travels the globe with their favorite clubs and national teams. If anything, this demonstrates how important football is to the continent. Consequently, the Confederation of African Football (CAF), serves as the governing organization for African association football. It also oversees continental, national, and club competitions, regulations, and media rights. For this reason, the CAF’s competitiveness has changed both statistically as it now houses some of the strongest tournaments in the world.
Following the formation of the Confederation in 1957, there are now 11 competitions that all highlight the superiority that the continent has reached over the years. There are also championships for Futsal and Beach Soccer, which is quite unusual. Moreover, we can define it as an organization dedicated to improving African football among clubs and national teams. The governing body hosts various tournaments, one of which has helped African clubs improve their game. This tournament in particular is the “CAF Champions League.”
Starting in 1964, the CAF Champions League, formerly known as the African Cup of Champions Clubs, was played by teams that ended up as winners of the championships of Member Associations, according to CAF. The current championship structure, which includes a direct elimination phase and a group phase, was established in 1997.
Then, in 2004, the CAF increased representation by allowing the top 12 rated Member Associations to have two representatives, depending on club performance in inter-club events. In theory, the league champion and runner-up. The competition’s preliminary phase, which is separated into rounds, is based on a direct elimination system with home and away matches. The winners of the preliminaries’ final round advance to the group stage, while losers are relegated to the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup. The group stage had eight clubs from 1997 to 2016. With the addition of quarter-final matches in 2017, the number of participants increased to 16 teams. The winner goes to the FIFA Club World Cup to represent Africa.
Now, how have Egyptian teams fared in this competition over the years? Well, Al Ahly has won ten titles and will face Morocco’s Wydad in the final this year. Zamalek, on the other side, has won five CAF Champions League titles…both are true symbols of Egypt’s dominance on the continent. What are our expectations for this matchup? It will undoubtedly be a passionate match that will demonstrate how African football has progressed over time.
As you can see, the CAF is always ready to launch a number of tournaments to showcase the continent’s ample talent, which never fails to amaze us. Whether it’s teams or clubs, African football is steadily improving to catch up to its European counterparts.