Soweto Derby and African Football League final fixture clash to be avoided?

Soweto Derby and African Football League final fixture clash to be avoided?

The potential clash of the Soweto Derby and the inaugural African Football League (AFL) fixtures on 11 November could be avoided, with meetings between the relevant stakeholders set to take place, SABC Sport has learnt from impeccable sources.

The highly anticipated Soweto Derby between the two local giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates in the Dstv Premiership is scheduled for FNB stadium on 11 November at 15:30.

Last night, a 10-man Mamelodi Sundowns held a record 11 times African Championships Al Ahly to a goalless draw in Cairo to win the semifinal 1-0 on aggregate, to set up an AFL final against Moroccan champions Wydad Casablanca.

The first leg of the final is scheduled for Sunday 5 November in Casablanca and the second leg on 11 November at 19:30.

The date of the Soweto Derby was set during the off-season when the Premier Soccer League (PSL) was planning its fixtures, and the AFL fixtures were only confirmed in September and there were no guarantees at the time that the record 16 times South African champions Sundowns would make the final.

Four games later, the dominant Brazilians, who have won record-extending six consecutive domestic league titles have reached their first continental final since 2016, when they lifted their maiden CAF Champions League title in Egypt. 

The second leg of the AFL final, set to take place at the Loftus Versfeld stadium is expected to be a special big global event, with FIFA President Gianni Infantino, CAF President Patrice Motsepe, and other football leaders from around the world and on the continent in attendance.

SABC Sport also understands that despite the time having been set at 19:30 for the final, Sundowns will again attempt to play this game at their preferred afternoon (15:00) slot, which would call for serious considerations to be made about the dates or scheduling of this game.

It would not be the first time since the new AFL tournament started that scheduling adjustments would have taken place owing to different factors, including travel arrangements. 

The consideration around the date or time of the AFL final would also send a good message that this tournament has not come to disrupt the domestic football programme but to enhance it.

Sundowns played their first leg of the semifinal against Al Ahly at Loftus Stadium on a Sunday afternoon.

The inaugural AFL is said to be a pilot project for the 22-team tournament that will be introduced in 2024, to start at the regional level and carry more prize money and SA will have at least two teams taking part in that edition.

This year’s winners will get $4 million (R75 million), runners-up $3 million (R55 million), semifinalists $1,7 million, and quarterfinalists $ 1 million (R18,5 million).