CAF Champions League

The CAF Champions League, known for sponsorship reasons as the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League[1] and formerly the African Cup of Champion Clubs, is an annual club football competition organized by the Confederation of African Football and contested by top-division African clubs, deciding the competition winners through a round robin group stage to qualify for a double-legged knockout stage, and then a single leg final. It is one of the most prestigious football tournaments in the world and the most prestigious club competition in African football.

CAF Champions League
CAF Champions League.png
Founded1964 (rebranded in 1997)
RegionAfrica (CAF)
Number of teams16 (Group Stage)
68 (Total)
(from 56 associations)
Qualifier for
Related competitionsCAF Confederation Cup
Current championsMorocco Wydad AC
(3rd title)
Most successful club(s)Egypt Al Ahly
(10 titles)
Television broadcastersList of broadcasters
WebsiteOfficial website
2022–23 CAF Champions League

The winner of the tournament earns a berth for the FIFA Club World Cup, a tournament contested between the champion clubs from all six continental confederations, and also faces the winner of the CAF Confederation Cup in the following season's CAF Super Cup. Clubs that finish as runners-up their national leagues, having not qualified for the Champions League, are eligible for the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup competition.

Egyptian clubs have the highest number of victories (16 titles), followed by Morocco with 7. Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria have the largest number of winning teams, with three clubs from each having won the title. The competition has been won by 26 clubs, 12 of which have won it more than once. Al Ahly is the most successful club in the competition's history, having won the tournament a record 10 times. Wydad Casablanca are the current defending champions, having beaten Al Ahly by two goals to nil in the 2022 final.[2]

HistoryEdit

1964–1997: Beginnings to competition rise in prominenceEdit

 
Salif Keïta, Runner-up in 1965 and 1966 with Stade Malien and Real Bamako

Established in 1964 as the African Cup of Champions Clubs, the first team to lift the trophy was Cameroonian team Oryx Douala who beat Stade Malien of Mali 2–1 in a one-off final.[3]

There was no tournament held the following year, but the action resumed again two years later in 1966, when the two-legged 'home and away' final was introduced, which saw another Malian team AS Real Bamako take on Stade d'Abidjan of Ivory Coast. Bamako won the home leg 3–1 but it all came apart for them in the away game in Abidjan as the Ivorians went on to win 4–1 to take the title 5–4 on aggregate.[4]

In 1967 when Asante Kotoko of Ghana met TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (or the DRC for short), both matches ended in draws (1–1 and 2–2 respectively). CAF arranged a play-off, but Kotoko failed to appear[5] and the title was handed to Mazembe, who went on to win the title again the following year.[6]

However, the Ghanaians got their revenge in 1970, when Kotoko and Mazembe once again met in the final. Once again, the first game ended 1–1, but against expectation the Ghanaians ran out 2–1 winners in their away game to lift the title that had eluded them three years earlier.[7]

The 1970s saw a remarkable rise in the fortunes of Cameroonian club football, which created the platform of success enjoyed by Cameroonian football at international level today.

Between 1971 and 1980 Cameroonian teams won the cup four times, with Canon Yaoundé taking three titles (1971,[8] 1978[9] and 1980[10]) and US Douala lifting the cup in 1979. In between the Cameroonian victories the honor was shared with another team enjoying a golden age, Guinean side Hafia Conakry, who won it three times during this period (1972,[11] 1975[12] and 1977[13]).

1997–present: Change of name and rise in reputationEdit

 
Mohamed Aboutrika, 5 Times CAF Champions league winner with Al Ahly

Apart from the introduction of the away goals rule, very little changed in this competition until 1997, when CAF under Issa Hayatou took the bold step to follow the lead established a few years earlier by UEFA by creating a league/group stage in the tournament and changing the name to the CAF Champions League (in line with UEFA's own Champions League). CAF also introduced prize money for participants for the first time with the initial offering of US$1 million to the winners and US$750,000 to the runners-up, making the rebranded competition the richest African club competition at the time.

In the new format, the league champions of the respective CAF member countries go through a series of qualification rounds until a round of 16 stage. The 8 winners are then drawn into two groups of 4 teams each, with each team playing each other on a home and away basis. At the end of the league stage, the top two teams in each group met in the semi-finals, with the winners going through to contest the final.

Beginning with the 2009 season, the prize money increased to $1.5 million for the champions and $1 million for the runner-ups. Since the competition rebranded in 1997, teams from North Africa have come to dominate the competition and its records entirely. Morocco's Raja Casablanca won two of the first three editions,[14] but Al Ahly became the most successful team, winning the tournaments in 2001,[15] 2005,[16] 2006,[17] 2008[18] and 2012,[19] while Zamalek managed to be champions in 2002.[20] Tunisian teams broke into the championship with the title of Étoile du Sahel, which in 2007 was proclaimed champion after being finalist in 2004 and 2005.[21] For its part, Espérance de Tunis achieved its second continental title in 2011 after having lost in the final in the 1999, 2000, 2010 and 2012 editions.[22]

Despite the clear dominance of North African teams, in 2003 and 2004, Nigerian team Enyimba won their first two championship titles.[23][24] ASEC Mimosas from Ivory Coast and Accra Hearts of Oak from Ghana added two championships for black Africa. In 2010, TP Mazembe from the DRC became the first club to repeat as champions on two occasions, with the first pair of wins arriving in 1967 and 1968,[25][26] before repeating the feat again in 2009 and 2010.[27][28] In 2017, the group phase was expanded from 2 groups of 4 teams to 4 groups of 16, with the addition of an extra knock-out round.

The 2020–21 season was played behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa inline with global football leagues and competitions. Nevertheless, Al Ahly faced bitter rivals Zamalek in an-all Egyptian final (the first time in CAF competition history two clubs from the same country compete in any of its finals),[29] with the former emerging victorious and winning its ninth title.[30] Al Ahly successfully defended their title for a record-extending 10th time the following season by beating Kaizer Chiefs of South Africa.[31]

Structure and qualificationEdit

The CAF Champions League is open to the winners of all CAF-affiliated national leagues, as well as the title holders from the previous season. From the 2004 season onward, with the merging of the CAF Cup and the CAF Cup Winners' Cup to create the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup, the runners-up of football leagues of the 12 highest-ranked countries also enter the tournament, making up a total of 64 in-competition teams. The 12 countries would be ranked based on the performance of their clubs in the previous 5 seasons/editions of the competition (the plain definition of the CAF 5-Year Ranking).[32]

The CAF Champions League operates primarily as a knockout competition, with trim-down qualification rounds, a group stage, a two-legged knockout stage and a one-off final. At the start of the competition, the 64 qualified teams enter 2 qualification rounds: the preliminary stage and the first round. After the first qualifying round, the remaining teams are split into four groups of 4, whereas the teams each first-round winner vanquished transfer to the second qualification round of the Confederation Cup for hopes of group stage progression. The winners and runners-up of each group progress to the two-legged knockount stage for hopes of progression to a one-off final for a chance to lift the trophy for their member asssociation.

SponsorshipEdit

In October 2004, MTN contracted a four-year deal to sponsor CAF's competitions worth US$12.5 million, which at that time was the biggest sponsorship deal in African sporting history.[33]

In 2008, CAF put a value of 100 million for a comprehensive and long-term package of its competitions when it opened tenders for a new sponsor, which was scooped up by French telecommunications giant Orange through the signing of an eight-year deal the following year in July, whose terms were not disclosed.[34]

On 21 July 2016, French oil and gas giant Total secured an eight-year sponsorship package from CAF to support ten of its principal competitions, including its main competition, the Africa Cup of Nations.[35] In 2021, Total rebranded as TotalEnergies, although it remained as the competitions' title sponsors.[36]


Current Sponsors:

Title Sponsor Official Sponsors Ball Supplier

PrizesEdit

Trophy and medalsEdit

 
Official trophy

Each year, the winning team is presented with the African Champion Clubs' Cup, the current version of which has been awarded since the competition name change in 1997. Forty gold medals are presented to the competition winners and 40 silver medals to the runners-up.

1997–2008Edit

In 1997, CAF introduced prize money for the eight participants in group stage for the first time in an African football club competition. This first trunch lasted until 2008.

Final
position
Prize money
Champions US$1,000,000
Runners-up US$750,000
Semi-finalists US$427,500
3rd in group stage US$261,250
4th in group stage US$190,000

2009–2016Edit

Between 2009 and 2016, CAF increased prize money to be shared between the Top 8 clubs as follows:[46]

Final
position
Prize money
Champions US$1,500,000
Runners-up US$1,000,000
Semi-finalists US$700,000
3rd in group stage US$500,000
4th in group stage US$400,000

2017–2021Edit

From 2017 to 2021, CAF increased prize money to be shared between the Top 16 clubs as follows:[47][48][49]

Final
position
Prize money
Champions US$2,500,000
Runners-up US$1,250,000
Semi-finalists US$875,000
Quarter-finalists US$650,000
3rd in group stage US$550,000
4th in group stage US$550,000

* Note: National Associations receive an additional equivalent share of 5% for each amount awarded to clubs.


Broadcast coverageEdit

Below are the current broadcast rights holders of this competition:

Country/Region Channels[50]
  ASEAN beIN Sports
  Benin ORTB
  Europe Sportfive
  France beIN Sports
  Burkina Faso RTB
Latin America ESPN
  Ghana
  MENA beIN Sports
  South Africa [52]
Western Balkans Sport Klub
  United States beIN Sports
Sub-Saharan Africa
East Africa

Records and statisticsEdit

Performance by clubsEdit

Performances in the African Cup of Champions Clubs and CAF Champions League by club
Club
Titles Runners-up Seasons won Seasons runner-up
  Al Ahly 10 5 1982, 1987, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2020, 2021 1983, 2007, 2017, 2018, 2022
  Zamalek 5 3 1984, 1986, 1993, 1996, 2002 1994, 2016, 2020
  TP Mazembe 5 2 1967, 1968, 2009, 2010, 2015 1969, 1970
  ES Tunis 4 4 1994, 2011, 2018, 2019 1999, 2000, 2010, 2012
  Hafia FC 3 2 1972, 1975, 1977 1976, 1978
  Wydad AC 3 2 1992, 2017, 2022 2011, 2019
  Raja CA 3 1 1989, 1997, 1999 2002
  Canon Yaoundé 3 0 1971, 1978, 1980
  Asante Kotoko 2 5 1970, 1983 1967, 1971, 1973, 1982, 1993
  JS Kabylie 2 0 1981, 1990
  Enyimba 2 0 2003, 2004
  ES Sétif 2 0 1988, 2014
  Vita Club 1 2 1973 1981, 2014
  Hearts of Oak 1 2 2000 1977, 1979
  ES Sahel 1 2 2007 2004, 2005
  Ismaily 1 1 1969 2003
  Orlando Pirates 1 1 1995 2013
  ASEC Mimosas 1 1 1998 1995
  Mamelodi Sundowns 1 1 2016 2001
  Oryx Douala 1 0 1965
  Stade d'Abidjan 1 0 1966
  CARA Brazzaville 1 0 1974
  MC Alger 1 0 1976
  Union Douala 1 0 1979
  AS FAR 1 0 1985
  Club Africain 1 0 1991
  AS Bilima 0 2 1980, 1985
  Al-Hilal 0 2 1987, 1992
  Shooting Stars 0 2 1984, 1996
  Heartland 0 2 1988, 2009
  Stade Malien 0 1 1965
  Real Bamako 0 1 1966
  Étoile Filante du Togo 0 1 1968
  Simba FC 0 1 1972
  Ghazl Al-Mehalla 0 1 1974
  Enugu Rangers 0 1 1975
  Africa Sports 0 1 1986
  MC Oran 0 1 1989
  Nkana FC 0 1 1990
  SC Villa 0 1 1991
  Ashanti Gold 0 1 1997
  Dynamos FC 0 1 1998
  CS Sfaxien 0 1 2006
  Coton Sport 0 1 2008
  USM Alger 0 1 2015
  Kaizer Chiefs 0 1 2021


Performance by nationsEdit

Performances in finals by nation
Nation Titles Runners-up Total
  Egypt 16 10 26
  Morocco 7 3 10
  Tunisia 6 7 13
  DR Congo 6 6 12
  Algeria 5 2 7
  Cameroon 5 1 6
  Ghana 3 8 11
  Guinea 3 2 5
  Nigeria 2 5 7
  South Africa 2 3 5
  Ivory Coast 2 2 4
  Congo 1 0 1
  Mali 0 2 2
  Uganda 0 2 2
  Sudan 0 2 2
  Togo 0 1 1
  Zambia 0 1 1
  Zimbabwe 0 1 1

Performances by regionEdit

Federation (Region) Clubs Titles
UNAF (North Africa) Al Ahly (10), Zamalek (5), ES Tunis (4), Raja CA (3), Wydad AC (3), ES Sétif (2), JS Kabylie (2), Club Africain (1), ES Sahel (1), FAR Rabat (1), Ismaily (1), MC Alger (1), 34
UNIFFAC (Central Africa) TP Mazembe (5), Canon Yaoundé (3), CARA Brazzaville (1), Oryx Douala (1), Union Douala (1), Vita Club (1) 12
WAFU (West Africa) Hafia (3), Asante Kotoko (2), Enyimba (2), ASEC Mimosas (1), Hearts of Oak (1), Stade d'Abidjan (1) 10
COSAFA (Southern Africa) Orlando Pirates (1), Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 2
CECAFA (East Africa) 0

Top goalscorersEdit

Year Footballer Club Goals
Champions League era
1997   Kossi Noutsoudje   Obuasi Goldfields 7
1998   Aseged Tesfaye
  Reda Ereyahi
  Ethiopian Coffee SC
  Raja Casablanca
6
1999   Hossam Hassan   Al Ahly 6
2000   Emmanuel Osei Kuffour   Hearts of Oak 10
2001   Kapela Mbiyavanga   Petro Atlético 9
2002   Ahmed Belal
  Antonin Koutouan
  Hicham Aboucherouane
  Al Ahly
  ASEC Mimosas
  Raja Casablanca
7
2003   Dramane Traoré   Ismaily 8
2004   Mamadou Diallo   USM Alger 10
2005   Mohamed Barakat
  Joetex Frimpong
  Al Ahly
  Enyimba FC
7
2006   Mohamed Aboutrika   Al Ahly 8
2007   Trésor Mputu   TP Mazembe 9
2008   Stephen Worgu   Enyimba FC 13
2009   Dioko Kaluyituka   TP Mazembe 8
2010   Michael Eneramo   Espérance de Tunis 8
2011   Edward Sadomba   Al-Hilal 14
2012   Emmanuel Clottey   Berekum Chelsea 12
2013   Alexis Yougouda Kada   Coton Sport 7
2014   El Hedi Belameiri
  Haythem Jouini
  Ndombe Mubele
  Mrisho Ngasa
  ES Sétif
  Espérance de Tunis
  AS Vita Club
  Young Africans
6
2015   Bakri Al-Madina
  Mbwana Samatta
  Al-Merrikh
  TP Mazembe
7
2016   Mfon Udoh   Enyimba 9
2017   Taha Yassine Khenissi
  Saladin Said
  Espérance de Tunis
  Saint George
7
2018   Anice Badri   Espérance de Tunis 8
2018–19   Moataz Al-Mehdi   Al-Nasr 7
2019–20   Jackson Muleka   TP Mazembe 7
2020–21   Mohamed Sherif   Al Ahly 6
2021–22   Tiago Azulão   Petro de Luanda 6

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit