African Club Association boss supports Chiefs and Pirates inclusion in the AFL

African Club Association boss supports Chiefs and Pirates inclusion in the AFL

Newly elected Chairperson of the African Club Association (ACA) Hersi Ally Said says South Africa’s two biggest clubs in terms of support base Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates deserve a place in the expanded African Football League (AFL) next season.

Speaking during a meeting with the South African Football Journalists Association (SAFJA) on Wednesday afternoon in Johannesburg, Said says with the AFL set to expand to 24 teams next season, it will make sense to have two of the strongest football clubs commercially in Southern Africa taking part in this tournament.

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''I heard the information that this time around instead of 8 they will have 24 clubs, that's a big number and that can be able to pull the biggest teams in Africa. Young Africans is one of them - with no doubt we will have to be there because of our performance and fan base, it will amplify the entire tournament.

''In South African, Mamelodi Sundowns - talking about the levels they deserve to be there. But, you can not run away from Kaizer and Orlando. They are the two teams with the biggest fan base in South Africa as well,'' expressed Said.

Premier Soccer League (PSL) kings Mamelodi Sundowns were the inaugural winners of the AFL and after only six matches they took home R75 million.

The 24-team version has always been the original idea, but the Confederation of African Football (CAF) started with the eight-team tournament as a pilot project last year as they had not concluded all the sponsors for the tournament.

Said says the addition of big clubs like Yanga, Chiefs, and Pirates as well as other clubs that were left out, would help AFL commercially and in terms of broadcast revenue eyeballs.

''I mean sponsorship is the number 1 thing, you can't have players performing if there is no money, the best performance goes with funds,'' added Said.

SABC Sport understands that the CAF Executive Committee is sitting this week, and they will come out with a calendar that will map out their footballing programme for the next few years.

East Africa was only represented by Simba Sports Club in last year’s AFL but Said, who is also the President of Young Africans (Yanga) Sports Club, says they deserve their place in this year’s edition.

He was here for the Soweto Derby in November last year and says the AFL cannot miss out on a big stage like that in SA football.

''I was here not for this but the other derby, being at the FNB Stadium, 90 seater fully packed. We love to see that in football, our stadiums packed,'' he concluded.

When the initial programme of the AFL was introduced, CECAFA and COSAFA teams were going to be grouped into a single group of eight teams, playing round-robin/group stages matches.

The top four would then advance to the knockout phase and meet other eight winners from different zones on the continent. But Said is warning that three teams could be too much from one country, meaning between Chiefs and Pirates, one team could miss out.