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ACA Chairman On Chiefs And Pirates AFL Calls

The Chairman of the African Club Association (ACA) and President of Young Africans SC Hersi Ally Said has addressed the calls for Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates to be included in the next edition of the African Football League.

The inaugural AFL, won by Mamelodi Sundowns featured eight clubs; Masandawana, Al Ahly, Wydad Atheltic Club, Simba SC, TP Mazembe, Enyimba, Petro de Luanda and Esperance.

In what was originally meant to be a 24-team tournament, the Confederation of African Football decided to trim it to eight in the pilot edition, based on the highest-ranked teams in eight regions via the official performance-based CAF club ranking system.

It brought plenty of criticism with the likes of Zamalek, Raja Atheltic Club, the Soweto gainst and even Said’s own club Yanga SC being overlooked – which he addressed going into the next edition of the event after Sundowns earned over R70-million in winnings in the pilot year.

“To be honest, sponsorship is the number one thing, if you ask me what will be the most important part of football, if I put aside the players, the next thing will be money, these two go along,” he said when asked by iDiski Times at the Safja event in Sandton.

“You can’t have all these players performing if there’s no money and you cannot have engagement from the public if you don’t get results, so the best teams, the best performers come with money, the best performers come with fans.

“I saw the engagement on AFL last year, and they picked eight teams, a very good starting point for CAF – it was a very good starting point for AFL but I heard the information that they will have 24 instead of eight [teams] in the next one.

“So 24 is a big number. I know the continent has more than 500 clubs but from eight to 24 is a big number and that can be able to pull the biggest teams in Africa. Young Africans is one of them. Without a doubt we will have to be there because of our performances, and our fan base and it will amplify the entire tournament.”

In reference to Amakhosi and the Buccaneers, who are among the biggest fanbases on the African continent, Said said it’s essential to have them, but warned that perhaps only two representative from each country will be included.

“In South Africa, Mamelodi Sundowns, talking about the levels, yes they deserve to be part of that, but you cannot run away from Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, they are two teams with the biggest number of fans in South Africa.

“I was here for the previous Derby, in November, I was here and being at FNB Stadium with a 90,000 seater fully packed, it was an amazing thing, we would love to see that, we would love to see our stadiums fully packed, 100 percent.

“And it’s not for free huh, the [fans] were paying… I was invited, I didn’t pay, the rest paid, 90,000 people paid – and we want to see that in football, we want to see AFL capturing the moments of Africa. 

“We’ve seen a lot of investment coming through. Whoever played that got $1-million from the get-go, it started in the quarter-final, they got $1-million, that’s a huge amount of money just to play two games and get eliminated.

“But we want to see the engagement of the public and that requires the biggest teams to participate in the tournament, and we’d love to see the biggest teams participate, even though there’s a number of big teams in Africa.

“So if you guys are making noise for Kaizer Chiefs and Pirates to participate, remember there’s Mamelodi Sundowns here… there will be three from South Africa, that’s too much hey, there’s others that would love to see AFL happening in their country.

“I have a lot of faith and respect for CAF decisions when it comes to these tournaments and selections, and they will be very wise to choose the biggest teams to participate in AFL, especially with an increase to 24 clubs from eight last year.”

Lorenz Kohler
Lorenz Kohler
Lorenz Köhler is an award-winning South African football journalist. Having cut his teeth in the industry working at Kick-Off Magazine, he is now iDiski Times' senior digital content writer. He specialises in breaking top African football stories and transfers with a major focus on the 'big-three' Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates and CAF inter-club and international competitions. In 2021 he was listed amongst the top-five journalists under 30 in Print Media for the AIPS Awards.