The African Football League, a recently launched continental super league comprising eight teams, inaugurated its competition to a full-capacity crowd of 60,000 fans in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.
The opening match featured the home team, Simba, locking horns with Egyptian giants Al Ahly, Africa’s most successful football club, which ended in a thrilling 2-2 draw.
Simba and Al Ahly contested the first leg of a quarter-final match, with the second leg set to be played in Cairo on Tuesday. All matches can be wagered on the Betway soccer betting website.
The current eight-team tournament differs from the initial concept that FIFA President Gianni Infantino proposed to the member countries of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) during their 2020 congress.
Infantino had suggested a 24-team tournament with a prize pool of $200 million, intending to retain top talent within Africa and potentially elevate the continent to a leading position in the global football landscape.
However, nearly four years after the initial proposal, the African Football League began as a knockout competition, set to conclude in just 17 days. Each participating team is guaranteed $1 million, with the winner receiving $4 million, the same prize money awarded to the African Champions League winners.
The African Super League persisted with this concept, in contrast to similar plans in Europe that were derailed when clubs withdrew due to widespread opposition.
Interestingly, the African Football League has secured only one sponsor so far, with a recent deal with Visit Saudi, the tourism authority of Saudi Arabia.
The other six clubs participating in this year’s event will play their opening matches this weekend, with winners from these fixtures progressing to the semi-finals. The launch of the African Football League marks a significant step in the development of African football, although it reflects a different path from the initial vision presented by FIFA President Infantino in 2020.
The competition has drawn several of the continent’s most prominent teams to compete in its inaugural year.
Al Ahly (Egypt)
Enyimba FC (Nigeria)
Espérance Tunis (Tunisia)
Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa)
Petro Atletico de Luanda (Angola)
Simba SC (Tanzania)
TP Mazembe (DR Congo)
Wydad Casablanca (Morocco)
Al-Ahly go into the tournament as strong Betway favorites. They boast an impressive track record in the CAF Champions League, possessing a roster of top-tier players and an exceptionally well-organized team. From a sponsorship perspective and revenue generation, they outshine all other clubs.
Morocco has consistently been a formidable force in African football, and Wydad will pose a strong challenge for the Egyptians, as will Esperance, a former African Champions League winner.
While Enyimba from Nigeria is a team worth keeping an eye on, it has been quite some time since they held the title of Africa’s top football club. In fact, they have not claimed a major competition victory in the last two decades.
The tournament offers them a chance to make a comeback, potentially proving their mettle and recapturing the glories of years past. South African side Mamelodi Sundowns will also be going there to win, especially after seeing off Angola’s Petro Atletico in Luanda on Saturday. The Betway website and mobile apps provide plenty of betting options for the matches, alongside other ongoing events across the globe.
It’s been 13 years since a tournament of this magnitude was hosted in Africa, and the legacy of South Africa hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2010 has not entirely met expectations. Nevertheless, the financial influx generated by the Africa Super League holds the potential to kickstart a path toward a brighter future for football across the continent.