CAF Champions League

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CAF Champions League
Founded 1964 (1997 in its
current format)
Region Africa (CAF)
Number of teams 16 (Group stage)
52 (Total)
(from 44 associations)
Qualifier for CAF Super Cup
FIFA Club World Cup
Related competitions CAF Confederation Cup
Current champions Morocco Wydad Casablanca (2nd title)
Most successful club(s) Egypt Al Ahly (8 titles)
Website CAF Champions League
2018 CAF Champions League

The CAF Champions League is an annual continental club football competition run by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). The top club sides from Africa's football leagues are invited to participate in this competition, which is the premier club football competition in the continent and the equivalent to the UEFA Champions League. Due to sponsorship reasons, the official name is Total CAF Champions League, with Total Champions League also in use.[1]

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.

Egypt's Al Ahly is the most successful club in the competition's history, having won the tournament eight times. Egyptian clubs have accumulated the highest number of victories, winning the title 14 times. The reigning champions are Wydad Casablanca of Morocco, who secured their second win in the competition after defeating Al Ahly in the 2017 final.


Early years[edit]

Initially, the competition saw the league champions of each national league existing under the jurisdiction of the CAF coming together over a 12-month period of home and away knock-out fixtures until the quarter-final, semi-final and final stage was reached for the winning team to be declared the African champion of champions.

Starting life as the 'African Champions Cup' in 1964, the first team to lift the trophy was Cameroonian side Oryx Douala, who beat Stade Malien of Mali 2-1 in a one-off final.

There was no tournament held the following year, but the action resumed again 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 the Côte d'Ivoire. 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.

In 1967 when Ghana's Asante Kotoko met the DRC's TP Mazembe, both matches ended in draws (1-1 and 2-2 respectively). CAF suggested a play-off, but the Ghanaians refused to compete[2] and the title was handed to Mazembe, who went on to win the title again the following year.

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.

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, 1978 and 1980) 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, 1975 and 1977).

North African dominance[edit]

Although only two North African teams had ever won the title before 1981 - Egypt's Ismaily in 1969, and Algeria's MC Alger in 1976 - since then, North Africa's teams have dominated the championship, between them winning the title on no fewer than 22 out of the last 28 tournaments.

Particularly dominant have been the two Egyptian giants and Cairo-based arch-rivals, Al Ahly and Zamalek. The Cairo ‘Red Devils’ (Al Ahly) have won it a record eight occasions – in 1982, 1987, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2013; while the Cairo ‘White Knights’ (Zamalek) have taken the honours on five occasions - 1984, 1986, 1993, 1996 and 2002.

The other North African teams that have made a big impression in this tournament are Morocco's Raja Casablanca, who has emerged victorious three times – in 1989, 1997 and 1999, Morocco's Wydad Athletic Club in 1992 and 2017, Algeria's JS Kabylie in 1981 and 1990, Algeria's ES Sétif in 1988 and 2014, and Tunisia's Espérance de Tunis in 1994 and 2011.

Recent developments[edit]

Apart from the introduction of the away goals rule (in which the team wins which has scored more goals playing ‘away’ if there is a tie in the aggregate score line over the two legs), very little changed in this competition until 1997. In this year, CAF took the bold step to follow the lead established a few years earlier in UEFA by creating a league stage in the tournament and changing the name to the CAF Champions League. CAF also introduced prize money for participants for the first time.

With a purse of US$1 million on offer to the winners and US$750,000 to the losing finalist, the new Champions League became the richest club competition in Africa . In the new format, the league champions of the respective CAF member countries went through a series of preliminary rounds until a last 16 stage. The 8 winners of this round were then drawn into two mini-leagues 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 meet in the semifinals, with the winners going through to contest the finals.

From the 2009 season, the winners purse was increased to US$1.5 million and the runners up to US$1 million.

In 2010, TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of the Congo became the first club ever to repeat as champions on two separate occasions. Their first pair of wins came in 1967 and 1968, before repeating the feat again in 2009 and 2010.

Structure and qualification[edit]

In 1997 the CAF Champions League replaced the previous pan-African competition, the African Cup of Champions Clubs; this had run from 1964–1996.[3]

The competition is open to the winners of all CAF-affiliated national leagues, as well as the holder of the competition from the previous season. From the 2004 competition the runner-up of the league of the 12 highest-ranked countries also entered the tournament creating a 64-team field. This was in response to the merging of the CAF Cup, the secondary pan-African club competition where the league runners-up would previous play, with the CAF Cup Winners' Cup to create the CAF Confederation Cup. The 12 countries would be ranked on the performance of their clubs in the previous 5 years.

The Champions League operates as a knockout competition, with a final group stage, with each tie (including the final) played over two legs - home and away. There are 3 knockout stages: the preliminary stage, the first round (32 teams) and the second round (16 teams). The 8 teams knocked out of the second round are entered into the Confederation Cup to play against the final 8 teams in that competition. After the second round, the last 8 teams are split into two groups of 4. The winner and runner-up in these groups are sent to play in a semi-final for the chance of contesting the final.



In July 2016, Total replaced Orange and has secured an eight-year sponsorship package from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to support 10 of its principal competitions, including the CAF Champions League, renamed Total CAF Champions League.[4]

Prize money[edit]

CAF have increase new prize money to be shared between the top sixteen clubs starting from 2017 to 2020.[5] [6]

Money awarded to club National Association share 5%
Winner US$2,500,000 US$125,000
Runners-up US$1,250,000 US$62,500
Semi-finalists US$800,000 US$40,000
Quarter-finalists US$650,000 US$32,500
3rd in group stage US$550,000 US$27,500
4th in group stage US$550,000 US$27,500

Broadcasting rights[edit]

Country/Region Channels Reference
 ASEAN Fox Networks Group
 Brazil SporTV
 Canada beIN Sports
Réseau des sports
 Europe Sportfive
 France beIN Sports
 India Star Sports
 Indonesia beIN Sports
Latin America ESPN
 Mali ORTM
 Morocco Arryadia
Arab League MENA beIN Sports
 South Africa SuperSport
Southern Balkans Arena Sport
 United States beIN Sports

Records and statistics[edit]



Overall Winners[edit]

Club Winners Runners-up Years Won Years Runners-up
Egypt Al Ahly 8 3 1982, 1987, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2013 1983, 2007, 2017
Egypt Zamalek 5 2 1984, 1986, 1993, 1996, 2002 1994, 2016
Democratic Republic of the Congo TP Mazembe [pbt 1] 5 2 1967, 1968, 2009, 2010, 2015 1969, 1970
Guinea Hafia FC 3 2 1972, 1975, 1977 1976, 1978
Morocco Raja Casablanca 3 1 1989, 1997, 1999 2002
Cameroon Canon Yaoundé 3 0 1971, 1978, 1980
Ghana Asante Kotoko 2 5 1970, 1983 1967, 1971, 1973, 1982, 1993
Tunisia Espérance de Tunis 2 4 1994, 2011 1999, 2000, 2010, 2012
Morocco Wydad Casablanca 2 1 1992, 2017 2011
Algeria JS Kabylie [pbt 2] 2 0 1981, 1990
Nigeria Enyimba 2 0 2003, 2004
Algeria ES Sétif 2 0 1988, 2014
Democratic Republic of the Congo Vita Club 1 2 1973 1981, 2014
Ghana Hearts of Oak 1 2 2000 1977, 1979
Tunisia Étoile du Sahel 1 2 2007 2004, 2005
Egypt Ismaily 1 1 1969 2003
South Africa Orlando Pirates 1 1 1995 2013
Ivory Coast ASEC Mimosas 1 1 1998 1995
South Africa Mamelodi Sundowns 1 1 2016 2001
Cameroon Oryx Douala 1 0 1965
Ivory Coast Stade d'Abidjan 1 0 1966
Republic of the Congo CARA Brazzaville 1 0 1974
Algeria MC Alger 1 0 1976
Cameroon Union Douala 1 0 1979
Morocco FAR Rabat 1 0 1985
Tunisia Club Africain 1 0 1991
Democratic Republic of the Congo AS Bilima 0 2 1980, 1985
Sudan Al-Hilal 0 2 1987, 1992
Nigeria Shooting Stars 0 2 1984, 1996
Nigeria Heartland [pbt 3] 0 2 1988, 2009
Mali Stade Malien 0 1 1965
Mali Real Bamako 0 1 1966
Togo Étoile Filante du Togo 0 1 1968
Uganda Simba FC 0 1 1972
Egypt Ghazl Al-Mehalla 0 1 1974
Nigeria Enugu Rangers 0 1 1975
Ivory Coast Africa Sports 0 1 1986
Algeria MC Oran 0 1 1989
Zambia Nkana Red Devils 0 1 1990
Uganda SC Villa 0 1 1991
Ghana Ashanti Gold [pbt 4] 0 1 1997
Zimbabwe Dynamos FC 0 1 1998
Tunisia CS Sfaxien 0 1 2006
Cameroon Coton Sport 0 1 2008
Algeria USM Alger 0 1 2015
  1. ^ Including TP Englebert
  2. ^ Including JE Tizi-Ouzou
  3. ^ Including Iwuanyanwu Nationale FC
  4. ^ Excluding Obuasi Goldfields

Overall performances by country[edit]

Country Titles Runners-up
 Egypt 14 7
 DR Congo 6 6
 Morocco 6 2
 Algeria 5 2
 Cameroon 5 1
 Tunisia 4 7
 Ghana 3 8
 Guinea 3 2
 Nigeria 2 5
 Ivory Coast 2 2
 South Africa 2 2
 Congo 1 0
 Mali 0 2
 Sudan 0 2
 Uganda 0 2
 Togo 0 1
 Zambia 0 1
 Zimbabwe 0 1

Champions by region[edit]

Federation (Region) Champion(s) Number
UNAF (North Africa) Al Ahly (8), Zamalek (5), Raja CA (3), Wydad AC (2), ES Sétif (2), JS Kabylie (2), Espérance de Tunis (2), Étoile du Sahel (1), MC Alger (1), Ismaily (1), FAR Rabat (1), Club Africain (1) 29 titles
UNIFFAC (Central Africa) TP Mazembe (5), Canon Yaoundé (3), Oryx Douala (1), Union Douala (1), CARA Brazzaville (1), Vita Club (1) 12 titles
WAFU (West Africa) Hafia (3), Asante Kotoko (2), Enyimba (2), Hearts of Oak (1), ASEC Mimosas (1), Stade d'Abidjan (1) 10 titles
COSAFA (Southern Africa) Mamelodi Sundowns (1), Orlando Pirates (1) 2 titles
CECAFA (East Africa) 0 titles

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "CAF partner and sponsors". 
  2. ^ "Asante Kotoko, the great porcupines of Africa". 
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-03-18. Retrieved 2005-05-27. 
  4. ^ "Total to sponsor CAF competitions for the next eight years". Africa News. Africa News. 21 July 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  5. ^ "CAF Executive Committee decisions". 2009-09-16. Retrieved 2010-02-12. 
  6. ^ "Prize money for CAF competitions effective 2017". 

External links[edit]