With the highly anticipated decision for the host of the 2027 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) scheduled for Wednesday, September 27, 2023, football enthusiasts across the continent have been eagerly awaiting updates on the inaugural African Football League (AFL). However, the latest development has seen the organizers of the AFL take a surprising and bold step, excluding Uganda and Kenya from the tournament lineup, both of which were key contenders in the East Africa Pamoja 2027 bid. This decision has left only Tanzania representing the East African region in the competition.
The reason cited for this exclusion is the perceived lack of football clubs in both Uganda and Kenya that match the required quality of play and financial prowess upon which the AFL was founded. Organizers emphasized the importance of having clubs with the capability to advance African football both in terms of skill and financial prosperity. As a result, Uganda and Kenya will need to bide their time and demonstrate their worth on the continental stage before being considered for future AFL tournaments.
The AFL, set to feature the 24 highest-ranked football clubs on the African continent, will officially kick off with the 2024/2025 football season, with a precursor tournament scheduled for October and November this year. This exciting new ‘Super’ competition is designed to showcase the best of African club football, providing football fans across Africa and the world with the opportunity to witness top-tier football on the African continent.
The inaugural edition of the AFL will consist of eight renowned teams representing three African Regional Blocks: North Africa, Central-West Africa, and South-East Africa. From the North African region, we have Egyptian giants Al Ahly Football Club, Tunisia’s Espérance Sportive de Tunis, and Wydad Athletic Club from Morocco.
Representing the Central-West African region are Nigeria’s Enyimba Football Club and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Tout Puissant Mazembe. The South-East African region will be represented by Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club from South Africa, Angola’s Atlético Petróleos de Luanda, and Tanzania’s Simba Sports Club.
The tournament format will consist of fixtures structured on a home-and-away basis, beginning with knockout quarter-finals, followed by semi-finals and the final, all played over two legs. The historic inaugural edition of the AFL will span four weeks, starting with the Opening Ceremony and the first match on October 20, 2023, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Semi-finals will take place between October 29 and November 1, with the final matches scheduled for November 5 and 11, 2023.
The AFL represents a prestigious annual continental club football competition aimed at celebrating football excellence and camaraderie across the African continent. By providing a competitive platform, the league seeks to elevate the sport’s quality while generating substantial revenue streams for distribution among participating clubs and stakeholders.
Anticipating remarkable growth, the second edition of the AFL is expected to expand to accommodate a total of 22 teams, enhancing inclusivity and extending the format throughout the season, promising a prolonged and engaging football experience for fans and enthusiasts alike.
Operated by AFL Limited as an independent entity, the league is dedicated to the establishment, operation, and administration of the competition. This autonomy ensures that the league can act in the best interests of the sport and its participants while upholding the highest standards of fairness, transparency, and professionalism, with a focus on revenue generation and continued growth of African football.
- Mr. Daniels N. Tatya is an affluent Sports Writer, Commentator and Editor. His over 15 years of covering almost major sporting events makes him a revered and an authority on investigative Sports journalism in Uganda. He can also be reached via [email protected] +256(0)758268315
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