Caf conundrum: How to get four sides into two African slots
Switching the Caf Champions League and Confederation Cup club competitions from a February-November to August-May season will bring changeover challenges.
Were the “new look” to come into effect next year, countries could have two sets of qualifiers vying for one lot of places.
Take South Africa as an example.
Bidvest Wits and Mamelodi Sundowns have qualified to represent the country in the 2018 Champions League. But if the Caf competitions start only next August, the 2017/18 season will have finished with the possibility of new league winners and runners-up.
Potentially, you have four clubs entitled to the two places reserved for South Africa in the 2018/19 Champions League.
With a dramatic improvement in prize money, including a $2.5 million first prize, no team is likely to voluntarily withdraw.
That situation would also apply to other countries where a variety of clubs fill the top positions in the championship over two seasons.
Only in a country like Sudan, where Al Hilal and Al Merrikh fill the top two positions with monotonous regularity, would such a problem not arise.
Countries with a FebruaryNovember domestic season, like Zimbabwe and Zambia, would have only one set of qualifiers and therefore, no problem.
Nor would Ghana and Nigeria be affected as they have a calendar-year season.
But apart from South Africa, north African nations Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia would be hit as they play from August to May.
A couple of solutions spring to mind with one being Caf passing the baton to national associations and letting them decide which clubs go into Africa.
Another is to hold “fast” Caf Cup competitions in the first half of the year when change is introduced. Groups could be scrapped in favour of a quick, knockout-only format, ensuring the competitions are completed by June.
That would ensure clubs do not miss out on one season of prize money, and provide an African representative for the lucrative end-of-year Fifa Club World Cup.