CAF Super Cup heads to Saudi Arabia, African Football League plans unveiled

King Fahd Stadium in Taif, Saudi Arabia

Featured image credit: CAF

King Fahd Stadium in Taif, Saudi Arabia

Featured image credit: CAF

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has furthered its ties to Saudi Arabia by announcing that its 2023 Super Cup will be held in the city of Taif at King Fahd Stadium, while plans for the new African Football League (AFL) competition have been presented.

Taking place on September 15, this year’s Super Cup contest will see current Champions League champion, Egypt’s Al Ahly, take on Algeria’s Union Sportive de la Médina d’Alger (USMA), the champion of the Confederation Cup.

The hosting deal has been struck just months after CAF and SAFF signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at hosting competitions and nurturing growth opportunities for both African and Saudi football.   

The MoU encompasses initiatives focusing on technical and football development at both club and national team levels, grassroots football, women’s football, talent identification, competitions, friendly matches, and commercial prospects.

CAF general secretary, Veron Mosengo-Omba, said: “We are excited to take the TotalEnergies CAF Super Cup to a new territory in Saudi Arabia – a country that has been making significant strides in global football.

“African football ranks amongst the best in the world right now, and it’s fitting that, in an era where many international stars are heading to Saudi Arabia, African football is also a part of this movement.”

The CAF Super Cup launched in 1993 and has only been held outside Africa on four previous occasions, each time in Qatar between 2019 and 2021. For Saudi Arabia, staging the Super Cup adds another football tournament to its event hosting portfolio.

This year alone, the Kingdom has secured hosting rights deals for the Supercoppa Italiana, 2023 FIFA Club World Cup and 2027 Asian Cup.

Ibrahim Alkassim, SAFF general secretary, said: “Our collaboration with CAF to host this event exemplifies our commitment to partnering with CAF in event hosting and match organisation in line with our existing partnership. This event marks yet another milestone in our ongoing collaboration.”

AFL to launch with eight clubs

Meanwhile, the CAF has confirmed that the first edition of its new AFL, a joint venture with FIFA, will operate on a slimmed-down eight-club model.

What was originally named the Africa Super League was the focal point of plans by FIFA president Gianni Infantino to secure the financial future of African football. It had originally been planned to incorporate 24 teams, with financial backing from Saudi Arabia.

However, this backing was this month reported to not be in place leading to the revised plans. The CAF announced yesterday (Tuesday) that the inaugural edition of the AFL will feature eight of Africa’s most famous and successful teams from three regional blocks – the North Region, the Central-West Region and the South-East Region.

Egyptian giants Al Ahly, Tunisia’s Espérance Sportive de Tunis and Wydad Athletic Club from Morocco are the clubs from the North Region. The clubs from the Central-West Region are: Nigeria’s Enyimba Football Club and the DRC’s Tout Puissant Mazembe. Mamelodi Sundowns from South Africa, Angola’s Atlético Petróleos de Luanda and Tanzania’s Simba Sports Club will represent the South-East Region.

The fixtures of the inaugural AFL are structured on a home and away basis. The competition starts with knock-out quarter finals and will be followed by the semi-finals and the final; all of which are played over two legs. 

The AFL’s debut will take place over four weeks, kicking off with the opening ceremony and the first match on October 20 in Dar es Salam, Tanzania. The semi-finals will take place between October 29 and November 1. The final matches to determine the AFL champion will take place on November 5 and 11.

The CAF added that the “fully-fledged AFL competition”, featuring the 24 highest ranked clubs on the continent, will commence during the 2024-25 season.