The inaugural African Football League (AFL) kicked off last week, representing the most ambitious attempt yet by CAF to transform and modernize club football across the continent.
The new tournament by CAF and backed by FIFA, promises to take the cream of African club sides to a global audience.
As the AFL prepares for today’s semi-final matches, here is a closer look at the groundbreaking competition promising to shake up the status quo.
What is the AFL?
The AFL is Africa’s new elite club competition featuring eight of the strongest teams from different regions battling in a knockout format.
The 16-game tournament culminating in a two-legged final will hand $4 million prize money to the victorious club.
CAF and FIFA announced plans for the AFL in February 2020 to provide a new pan-African club platform and change the face of the sport in Africa.
Who is competing in the AFL?
The eight AFL participants were selected based on club rankings from North, Central-West and South-East Africa.
Egyptian giants Al Ahly, who have won a record 11 CAF Champions League titles, headline the inaugural edition.
Fellow north African clubs Wydad Casablanca of Morocco and Tunisia’s Esperance, boasting nine titles between them, add more continental pedigree.
DR Congo’s five-time champions TP Mazembe and South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns, twice African kings, provide further quality.
Other clubs in the competition are Enyimba FC (Nigeria), Atletico Petroleos de Luanda (Angola) and Simba SC (Tanzania).
What is the AFL format and schedule?
The AFL will be contested on a straight knockout basis over seven rounds culminating in a two-legged final on November 5 and 11, 2022.
Quarter-finals matches were played as double-headers on October 28 and 29 before today’s semi-finals take place.
Sundowns will host Al Ahly in the first match of the first-leg of the semifinal at while Wydad Casablanca host Esperance in the other match of the day later in the evening.
The second leg matches will be played on Wednesday.
The schedule enables the tournament to squeeze inside the existing club calendar while showcasing its stars to new audiences.
How can fans watch the AFL globally?
In a break from the past, the AFL will be broadcast internationally via FIFA’s FIFA+ streaming platform as well as the new AFL website.
This digital-first approach will make the AFL easily accessible for supporters across the world while potentially attracting younger audiences.
What is the AFL’s wider Impact?
Central to the AFL is a vision of transforming club football in Africa and making its top sides globally competitive both on-pitch and commercially.
A key part of this plan is distributing revenues and resources evenly amongst CAF’s 54 members.
The AFL promises to stimulate development across Africa and balance the landscape in the continent’s favourite sport. It represents CAF’s most daring attempt yet to shake up the status quo and achieve lasting change in African football.
The AFL kickstarts a new era filled with intrigue but huge potential upside.
By taking the cream of African club football to the world, it could elevate Africa’s sporting status and transform its domestic leagues. The journey has started.