CAF Champions League

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CAF Champions League
CAF Champions League.png
Organising bodyCAF
Founded1964; 59 years ago (1964)
(rebranded in 1997)
RegionAfrica
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 CAF Champions League, known for sponsorship purposes as the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League[1] and formerly the African Cup of Champions Clubs, is an annual football club 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.

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.

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.

History[edit]

1964–1997: Beginnings to competition rise in prominence[edit]

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.[2]

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

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.[3]

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[4] and the title was handed to Mazembe, who went on to win the title again the following year.[5]

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.[6]

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,[7] 1978[8] and 1980[9]) 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,[10] 1975[11] and 1977[12]).

1997–present: Change of name and rise in reputation[edit]

Mohamed Aboutrika, 5-time 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 team in each group met in the final, in two-legged games (home and away).

In the 2001 season, the CAF introduced the semi-finals after group stage, then 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 CA won two of the first three editions,[13] but Al Ahly became the most successful team, winning the tournaments in 2001,[14] 2005,[15] 2006,[16] 2008[17] and 2012,[18] while Zamalek managed to be champions in 2002.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21]

Despite the clear dominance of North African teams, in 2003 and 2004, Nigerian team Enyimba won their first two championship titles.[22][23] 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,[24][25] before repeating the feat again in 2009 and 2010.[26][27] 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 two clubs from the same country compete in any final in CAF competition history),[28] with the former emerging victorious and winning its ninth title.[29] Al Ahly successfully defended their title for a record-extending 10th time the following season by beating Kaizer Chiefs of South Africa,[30] but were unable to secure a 3rd consecutive title in a row and 11th title in 2022 as they were defeated 2–0 by Moroccan club Wydad Casablanca who instead captured their 3rd CAF Champions League title.[31]

With the impending introduction of the Africa Super League in the 2023–24 season, CAF plans to keep the Champions League, but wants to potentially eliminate the group phase and have the competition exclusively made up of two-legged knockout matchups, as per the original format in 1964 to 1996.[32]

Structure and qualification[edit]

Qualification[edit]

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 African 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).[33]

The number of teams that each association enters into the CAF Champions League is determined annually through criteria as set by the CAF Competitions Committee.[34] The higher an association's ranking as determined by the criteria, the more teams represent the association in the Champions League, and the fewer qualification rounds the association's teams must compete in.

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 knockout stage]] for hopes of progression to a one-off final for a chance to lift the trophy for their member association.

Sponsorship[edit]

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.[35]

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.[36]

On 21 July 2016, French oil and gas giant, Total S.A., secured an eight-year sponsorship package from CAF to support its competitions, including its main competition, the Africa Cup of Nations.[37] In 2021, Total rebranded as TotalEnergies, although it remained as the competitions' title sponsors.[38]


Current Sponsors:

Title Sponsor Official Sponsors Former Sponsor Ball Supplier

Prizes[edit]

Trophy and medals[edit]

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.

1997–2008[edit]

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

2009–2016[edit]

Between 2009 and 2016, CAF increased prize money to be shared between the Top 8 clubs as follows:[48]

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

2017–2022[edit]

From 2017 to 2022, CAF increased prize money to be shared between the Top 16 clubs as follows:[49][50][51]

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 coverage[edit]

Below are the current broadcast rights holders of this competition:[52]

Country/Region Channels
 ASEAN beIN Sports
 Benin ORTB
 Europe Sportfive
 France beIN Sports
 Burkina Faso RTB
Latin America ESPN
 Ghana
Arab League MENA beIN Sports
 South Africa [54]
Western Balkans Sport Klub
 United States beIN Sports
Sub-Saharan Africa
East Africa

Records and statistics[edit]

Performance by clubs[edit]

Performance in the African Cup and CAF Champions League by club
Club
Titles Runners-up Seasons won Seasons runner-up
Egypt Al Ahly 10 5 1982, 1987, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2020, 2021 1983, 2007, 2017, 2018, 2022
Egypt Zamalek 5 3 1984, 1986, 1993, 1996, 2002 1994, 2016, 2020
Democratic Republic of the Congo TP Mazembe 5 2 1967, 1968, 2009, 2010, 2015 1969, 1970
Tunisia ES Tunis 4 4 1994, 2011, 2018, 2019 1999, 2000, 2010, 2012
Guinea Hafia FC 3 2 1972, 1975, 1977 1976, 1978
Morocco Wydad AC 3 2 1992, 2017, 2022 2011, 2019
Morocco Raja CA 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
Algeria JS Kabylie 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 ES 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 AS FAR 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 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 FC 0 1 1990
Uganda SC Villa 0 1 1991
Ghana Ashanti Gold 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
South Africa Kaizer Chiefs 0 1 2021


Performance by nations[edit]

Performances in finals by nation
Nation Winners 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 region[edit]

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

All-time table (Top 25 Clubs)[edit]

  • As of 5th January 2023. All matches including qualifying were taken into account with a game decided by penalties counted as draw. No awarded/withdrawn games were counted.
Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Egypt Al Ahly (34) 317 163 87 67 498 241 +257 576
2 Tunisia Espérance de Tunis (28) 266 140 73 53 432 220 +212 493
3 Ivory Coast ASEC Mimosas (30) 220 110 50 60 325 204 +121 380
4 Egypt Zamalek (26) 211 103 48 60 317 193 +124 357
5 Democratic Republic of the Congo TP Mazembe (27) 205 99 58 48 317 185 +132 355
6 Sudan Al Hilal (35) 204 78 60 66 259 215 +44 294
7 South Africa Mamelodi Sundowns (16) 132 70 34 28 224 115 +109 244
8 Ghana Asante Kotoko (28) 145 68 37 40 219 140 +79 241
9 Morocco Wydad AC (15) 140 66 34 40 207 117 +90 232
10 Morocco Raja CA (20) 140 65 36 39 203 120 +83 231
11 Tunisia Étoile du Sahel (15) 123 60 29 34 173 107 +66 209
12 Democratic Republic of the Congo AS Vita Club (22) 122 54 29 39 182 141 +41 191
13 Sudan Al Merrikh (26) 133 53 31 49 158 158 0 190
14 Algeria JS Kabylie (17) 109 56 19 34 147 91 +56 187
15 Nigeria Enyimba (12) 107 55 19 33 186 101 +85 184
16 Ghana Hearts of Oak (19) 111 54 21 36 167 138 +29 183
17 Angola Petro de Luanda (21) 114 48 32 34 174 139 +35 176
18 Zimbabwe Dynamos (18) 103 49 18 36 139 113 +26 165
19 Zambia Nkana (15) 89 45 23 21 137 85 +52 158
20 Algeria ES Sétif (12) 96 41 27 28 148 106 +42 150
21 Cameroon Coton Sport (18) 100 42 22 36 121 97 +24 148
22 Tanzania Simba (20) 101 43 19 39 136 123 +13 148
23 Egypt Ismaily (10) 75 40 18 17 132 70 +62 138
24 Cameroon Canon Yaoundé (13) 79 40 17 22 120 87 +33 137
25 Ivory Coast Africa Sports (21) 88 40 17 31 128 99 +29 137

* Number in parentheses show number of participations.

Top goalscorers[edit]

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

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  51. ^ "2020-21 TotalEnergies CAF CL Final – What you should know". CAFOnline.com. 13 July 2021. Retrieved 29 July 2021. Besides the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League Trophy, the winners will get the prize money of 2.5 million US $, while the runners up collect 1.25 million US $.
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  54. ^ "Supersport and SABC share coverage of Caf Champions League final in late deal". Sportcal. GlobalData. 19 July 2021. Retrieved 19 January 2022.

External links[edit]