SA back among CAF club elite

2014-12-22 06:53
Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns (Supplied)

Johannesburg - South African clubs are back among the elite for the 2015 CAF competitions with two entrants each in the Champions League and Confederation Cup.

League winners Mamelodi Sundowns and runners-up Kaizer Chiefs will discover their fates on Monday when the preliminary, first and second-round draws are made in Cairo.

Former African champions Orlando Pirates, as well as Wits, are the SA qualifiers for the second-tier Confederation Cup.

Pirates lifted the African Champions Cup - forerunner to the Champions League - in 1995 and Chiefs won the now defunct African Cup Winners Cup six years later.

The leading 12 countries on merit are permitted two clubs each in both annual competitions with other nations restricted to one

Preliminary round

Tunisia, Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo, Morocco, Nigeria, Sudan, Algeria, Mali, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville and Angola complete the elite.

South Africa dropped out of the top 12 in 2011 after poor results the previous year with Pirates suffering a humiliating Champions League loss to minnows Gaborone United of Botswana.

The Buccaneers flopped again in the preliminary round the following year after losing heavily at home against Angolans Recreativo Libolo.

But the Soweto-based Buccaneers were responsible for getting South Africa back among the elite by finishing runners-up to Egyptians Al-Ahly in the 2013 Champions League.

That unexpected achievement earned the country 20 points and 11th place on the merit table while Ghana dropped out.

Among seven winners

Of the 46 CAF club title winners since competitive football was introduced 50 years ago, 24 have qualified for the 2015 draws.

Algerians Entente Setif, who won the 2014 Champions League final on away goals from Congolese V Club, are among seven winners of the competition who have qualified.

The others are Congolese TP Mazembe, Ahly, Ghanaians Asante Kotoko, Moroccans Raja Casablanca, Nigerians Enyimba and Tunisians Esperance.

Ahly this month won a record-extending 19th CAF title by lifting the Confederation Cup for the first time with a fortunate away-goal final victory over Ivorians Sewe Sport.

Kaizer Chiefs, Congolese AC Leopards, Kenyans Gor Mahia, Malians Stade Malien, Sudanese El-Merrikh and Tunisians CS Sfaxien are Champions League entrants who have won other CAF competitions.

Former title-holders Moroccans FUS Rabat and Tunisians Etoile Sahel have qualified for the Confederation Cup - the African equivalent of the Europa League.

They will be joined by nine winners of CAF competitions, including Pirates, V Club, Algerians Mouloudia Alger, Congolese CARA, Egyptians Zamalek, Ivorians ASEC, Guineas Horoya, Tunisians Club Africain and Zambians Power Dynamos.

The preliminary, first and second-round draws for both competitions are regionally based to reduce travel costs as prize money only applies to the group phases.

Champions League winners receive $1.5m and runners-up $1m, while $660 000 goes to the Confederation Cup winners and $455 000 to the runners-up.

Both competitions start mid-February just one week after the completion of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Equatorial Guinea.


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