Home Sports Football Enyimba kick off African Football League campaign in Uyo; target champions’ $4m

Enyimba kick off African Football League campaign in Uyo; target champions’ $4m

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Nigeria’s most successful football club, Enyimba will start the quest for another title in the continent with a clash at Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo against three-time CAF Champions League winners Wydad Casablanca.

The inaugural African Football League kicked off on Friday in Dar-es-Salaam with Tanzania’s Simba battling visiting Al Ahly of Egypt 2-2, while South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns travelled to Angola to beat Petro Atlético de Luanda 2-0. The second legs of these fixtures will be played on Tuesday.

Eight teams are involved in this experimental edition with a full house of 24 clubs from next season. The other teams in this edition are Tunisia’s Espérance and TP Mazembe (DR Congo). Of the number, only Simba and Petro Atlético de Luanda are yet to win any African title.

Between then, the six teams have lifted the elite CAF Champions League 25 titles in its present and previous formats. Al Ahly, Africa’s most decorated team, lead with 11 wins, followed by TP Mazembe having five. Others are: Espérance (4), Wydad (3), Enyimba (2) and Mamelodi Sundowns (1).

The winners of this edition will not only lift the trophy but also earn $4 million, the same as the prize money as that for the CAF Champions League. The runners-up will have $3 million, while semifinalists will get $1.7 million each, and $1 million is for each quarter-finalists. And since the eight-team competition is starting at the quarterfinals, it means it’s a win-win for all the sides. CAF said that the essence of holding the tournament is the huge financial returns, projected to exceed $100 million, to be used to develop and improve stadiums, infrastructure and the promotion of African football.

The tournament was initially launched as the Africa Super League on 10th August 2022 and was to include 24 elite African clubs with a promotion/relegation system. But it was scaled down to eight teams for its inaugural campaign. CAF explained that it will run alongside its other main club competition, the CAF Champions League and the CAF Confederation Cup, and will not be a replacement for it.

The eight-team competition bares little resemblance to the initial concept which FIFA president Gianni Infantino suggested to the Confederation of African Football’s member countries at their 2020 congress.

Infantino, who attended Friday’s match in the Tanzanian capital at the head of a heavyweight FIFA delegation, said then that a 24-team tournament would have $200 million in prize money and keep top talent in Africa with potential to turn the continent into a leader in the world game.

But almost four years after first raising the idea, the league began as a knockout competition, which will be completed in 17 days.

Africa persisted with the concept of a continental super league after similar plans in Europe were doomed when clubs pulled out in the wake of widespread opposition.

Only a single sponsor has been signed for the African Football League, with a deal with Visit Saudi, the tourism authority of Saudi Arabia, announced last week.

When asked where the money for the new competition came from, CAF President, Patrice Motsepe told reporters at a press conference ahead of the match: “We pray very hard. It comes from heaven”.

Fixtures

Sunday 22nd October (1/4 finals 1st leg): Enyimba (Nigeria) v Wydad Casablanca (Morocco) (7 pm West African Time), TP Mazembe (DR Congo) v Espérance (Tunisia) (4 pm WAT)

Tuesday 24th October (1/4 finals 2nd leg): Al Ahly (Egypt) v Simba (Tanzania) (3 pm WAT), Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) v Petro Atlético de Luanda (Angola) (6 pm WAT)

Wednesday 25th October (1/4 finals 2nd leg): Wydad Casablanca (Morocco) v Enyimba (Nigeria) (7 pm West African Time), Espérance (Tunisia) v TP Mazembe (DR Congo) (4 pm WAT)

Sunday 28th October (1/4 Semifinals 1st leg): Enyimba (Nigeria)/Wydad Casablanca (Morocco) v TP Mazembe (DR Congo)/Espérance (Tunisia), Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa)/Petro Atlético de Luanda (Angola) v Al Ahly (Egypt)/Simba (Tanzania)

Wednesday 1st November (1/4 Semifinals 2nd leg): TP Mazembe (DR Congo)/Espérance (Tunisia) v Enyimba (Nigeria)/Wydad Casablanca (Morocco), Al Ahly (Egypt)/Simba (Tanzania) v Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa)/Petro Atlético de Luanda (Angola)

Sunday 5th November (Final 1st leg): Enyimba (Nigeria)/Wydad Casablanca (Morocco)/TP Mazembe (DR Congo)/Espérance (Tunisia) v Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa)/Petro Atlético de Luanda (Angola)/Al Ahly (Egypt)/Simba (Tanzania)

Sunday 11th November (Final 2nd leg): TP Mazembe (DR Congo)/Espérance (Tunisia)/Enyimba (Nigeria)/Wydad Casablanca (Morocco) v Al Ahly (Egypt)/Simba (Tanzania)/Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa)/Petro Atlético de Luanda (Angola)

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