The President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Dr Patrice Motsepe said he wanted Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates in the African Football League (AFL).
Speaking in a special press conference with the media in Abidjan ahead of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) draw on Thursday afternoon, Motsepe addressed the recent issue arising between the Premier Soccer League.
With Mamelodi Sundowns part of the eight clubs in the inaugural competition, there’s been resistance from the PSL clubs to allow them to compete and further extend the 2023/24 domestic campaign to accommodate them for another continental competition.
However, it appears some common ground will be found imminently to avoid Sundowns having to split their squad and technical team to compete in multiple competitions at the same time.
“You asked about Mamelodi Sundowns, my job involves every single football club and nation on the continent – and specifically [about] South Africa, the test was rankings, the test was taking the CAF and FIFA rankings,” Motsepe said when asked about the issues with the PSL and exclusions of the West African Union (WAFU A) zone clubs.
“Where do you qualify? At what level are you based on your successes and victories and how many times you’ve been in the Champions League or won the Champions League… So if you apply those criteria very strictly, some zones in Africa don’t qualify and I can’t allow that.”
While he didn’t say it directly, there have been questions over the exclusions of some of the biggest clubs on the continent and he stated the methods for selections were quite clear and based on meritocracy within each zone.
“You speak about WAFU A, I want every single zone to have a club in the African Football League, so if I had things the way I wanted them, three clubs in South Africa qualified; Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns,” he explained.
“But because of the inaugural African Football League, based on the performances of those clubs and the rankings they get from CAF, there’s only one that qualified.
“And let me say this as President of CAF, in terms of the communication of the African Football League which is a CAF competition, and as President of CAF, I have to take responsibility, because there’s a limitation that you can’t communicate with the football clubs in any country directly.
“You are confined to communicating through the member associations or the Federation, so I think we’ve taken note of these things and I’m satisfied that… it’s a learning process because you have the rules that say you can’t speak to the professional league.
“You can’t, you have to the Federation and what complicates this issue in some countries; is the leadership between the league and federation is not what it should be.
“So my job is to keep building on these ties to make sure the leadership of the professional league and the leadership of the federation work throughout the continent.”
Sundowns open up their AFL campaign against Girabola giants Petro de Luanda on 21 October at the Estádio 11 de Novembro.