CAF Champions League

The CAF Champions League is an annual continental club football competition run by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). The top club sides from Africa's football leagues are invited to participate in this competition, which is the premier club football competition in the continent and the equivalent to the UEFA Champions League. Due to sponsorship reasons, the official name is Total CAF Champions League, with Total Champions League also in use.[1]

CAF Champions League
Founded1964 (1997 in its
current format)
RegionAfrica (CAF)
Number of teams16 (Group stage)
52 (Total)
(from 44 associations)
Qualifier forCAF Super Cup
FIFA Club World Cup
Related competitionsCAF Confederation Cup
Current champions ES Tunis
(4 titles)
Most successful club(s) Al Ahly
(8 titles)
WebsiteOfficial website
2019–20 CAF Champions League

The winner of the tournament earns a berth for the FIFA Club World Cup, a tournament contested between the champion clubs from all six continental confederations, and also faces the winner of the CAF Confederation Cup in the following season's CAF Super Cup.

Egypt's Al Ahly SC is the most successful club in the competition's history, having won the tournament eight times. Egyptian clubs have accumulated the highest number of victories, winning the title 14 times.


Early years

Starting life as the 'African Cup of Champions Clubs' in 1964, the first team to lift the trophy was Cameroonian side Oryx Douala, who beat Stade Malien of Mali 2–1 in a one-off final.

There was no tournament held the following year, but the action resumed again in 1966, when the two-legged ‘home and away’ final was introduced, which saw another Malian team AS Real Bamako take on Stade d'Abidjan of the Côte d'Ivoire. Bamako won the home leg 3–1 but it all came apart for them in the away game in Abidjan as the Ivorians went on to win 4–1 to take the title 5–4 on aggregate.

In 1967 when Ghana's Asante Kotoko met the DRC's TP Mazembe, both matches ended in draws (1–1 and 2–2 respectively). CAF suggested a play-off, but the Ghanaians refused to compete[2] and the title was handed to Mazembe, who went on to win the title again the following year.

However, the Ghanaians got their revenge in 1970, when Kotoko and Mazembe once again met in the final. Once again, the first game ended 1–1 but against expectation the Ghanaians ran out 2–1 winners in their away game to lift the title that had eluded them three years earlier.

The 1970s saw a remarkable rise in the fortunes of Cameroonian club football, which created the platform of success enjoyed by Cameroonian football at international level today. Between 1971 and 1980 Cameroonian teams won the cup four times, with Canon Yaoundé taking three titles (1971, 1978 and 1980) and US Douala lifting the cup in 1979. In between the Cameroonian victories the honor was shared with another team enjoying a golden age, Guinean side Hafia Conakry, who won it three times during this period (1972, 1975 and 1977).

Developments since 1997

Apart from the introduction of the away goals rule (in which the team wins which has scored more goals playing ‘away’ if there is a tie in the aggregate score line over the two legs), very little changed in this competition until 1997. In this year, CAF took the bold step to follow the lead established a few years earlier in UEFA by creating a league stage in the tournament and changing the name to the CAF Champions League. CAF also introduced prize money for participants for the first time. With a purse of US$1 million on offer to the winners and US$750,000 to the losing finalist, the new Champions League became the richest club competition in Africa .

In the new format, the league champions of the respective CAF member countries went through a series of preliminary rounds until a last 16 stage. The 8 winners of this round were then drawn into two mini-leagues of 4 teams each, with each team playing each other on a home and away basis. At the end of the league stage, the top two teams in each group meet in the semifinals, with the winners going through to contest the finals. In 2017, the group phase was expanded from 8 to 16 teams and the mini-leagues from 2 to 4 and the addition of one extra knock-out round.

In 2010, TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of the Congo became the first club ever to repeat as champions on two separate occasions. Their first pair of wins came in 1967 and 1968, before repeating the feat again in 2009 and 2010.

Structure and qualification

In 1997 the CAF Champions League replaced the previous pan-African competition, the African Cup of Champions Clubs; this had run from 1964–1996.[3]

The competition is open to the winners of all CAF-affiliated national leagues, as well as the holder of the competition from the previous season. From the 2004 competition the runner-up of the league of the 12 highest-ranked countries also entered the tournament creating a 64-team field. This was in response to the merging of the CAF Cup, the secondary pan-African club competition where the league runners-up would previous play, with the CAF Cup Winners' Cup to create the CAF Confederation Cup. The 12 countries would be ranked on the performance of their clubs in the previous 5 years.

The Champions League operates as a knockout competition, with a final group stage, with each tie (including the final) played over two legs – home and away. There are 2 knockout stages: the preliminary stage and the first round (32 teams). The 16 teams knocked out of the first round are entered into the Confederation Cup to play against the final 16 teams in that competition. After the first round, the last 16 teams are split into four groups of 4. The winner and runner-up in these groups are sent to play in a quarter-final and the possibility to play semi-finals, in chase of victory, for the chance of contesting the final.


In October 2004, MTN has contracted a four-year deal to sponsor African football's major competitions. This agreement, which worthed US$12.5 million, was the biggest sponsorship deal in African sporting history at that time.[4]

In July 2009, Orange has signed an eight-year deal to sponsor African football's major competitions. Terms of the deal were not disclosed but CAF previous year put a value of 100 million for a comprehensive and long-term package of its competitions when it opened tenders for a new sponsor. The deal included the African Nations Cup, the CAF Champions League, the CAF Confederation Cup, the CAF Super Cup, the African Nations Championship and the African Youth Championship.[5]

In July 2016, Total secured an eight-year sponsorship package from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to support ten of its principal competitions, including the Africa Cup of Nations (renamed the Total Africa Cup of Nations).[6]

Current Sponsors:

Title SponsorOfficial SponsorsBall Supplier

Prize money


In 1997, the CAF introduced prize money for the eight participants in group stage for the first time in a club competition in Africa.

Prize money
ChampionsUS$1 million
3rd in group stageUS$261,250
4th in group stageUS$190,000


In 2009, the CAF had increased prize money to be shared between the Top 8 clubs as follows:[11]

Prize money
ChampionsUS$1.5 million
Runners-upUS$1 million
3rd in group stageUS$500,000
4th in group stageUS$400,000


The CAF has increased prize money to be shared between the Top 16 clubs starting from 2017 to 2020.[12] [13]

Prize money
ChampionsUS$2.5 million
Runners-upUS$1.25 million
3rd in group stageUS$550,000
4th in group stageUS$550,000

* Note: National Associations receive an additional equivalent share of 5% for each amount awarded to clubs.

Media coverage

Country/Region Channels[14]
 ASEAN BeIN Sports
 France Eurosport 1
 Europe Sportfive
 France beIN Sports
Latin America ESPN
 Mali ORTM
 Morocco Arryadia
MENA beIN Sports
 South Africa SuperSport
Western Balkans Arena Sport
 United States beIN Sports

Records and statistics


Performances by club

Club Titles Runners-up Winning Seasons Runner-up Seasons
Al Ahly 8 4 1982, 1987, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2013 1983, 2007, 2017, 2018
TP Mazembe [pbt 1] 5 2 1967, 1968, 2009, 2010, 2015 1969, 1970
Zamalek 5 2 1984, 1986, 1993, 1996, 2002 1994, 2016
ES Tunis 4 4 1994, 2011, 2018, 2019 1999, 2000, 2010, 2012
Hafia FC 3 2 1972, 1975, 1977 1976, 1978
Raja Casablanca 3 1 1989, 1997, 1999 2002
Canon Yaoundé 3 0 1971, 1978, 1980
Asante Kotoko 2 5 1970, 1983 1967, 1971, 1973, 1982, 1993
Wydad Casablanca 2 2 1992, 2017 2011, 2019
JS Kabylie [pbt 2] 2 0 1981, 1990
Enyimba 2 0 2003, 2004
ES Sétif 2 0 1988, 2014
Vita Club 1 2 1973 1981, 2014
Hearts of Oak 1 2 2000 1977, 1979
Étoile du Sahel 1 2 2007 2004, 2005
Ismaily 1 1 1969 2003
Orlando Pirates 1 1 1995 2013
ASEC Mimosas 1 1 1998 1995
Mamelodi Sundowns 1 1 2016 2001
Oryx Douala 1 0 1965
Stade d'Abidjan 1 0 1966
CARA Brazzaville 1 0 1974
MC Alger 1 0 1976
Union Douala 1 0 1979
FAR Rabat 1 0 1985
Club Africain 1 0 1991
AS Bilima 0 2 1980, 1985
Al-Hilal 0 2 1987, 1992
Shooting Stars 0 2 1984, 1996
Heartland [pbt 3] 0 2 1988, 2009
Stade Malien 0 1 1965
Real Bamako 0 1 1966
Étoile Filante du Togo 0 1 1968
Simba FC 0 1 1972
Ghazl Al-Mehalla 0 1 1974
Enugu Rangers 0 1 1975
Africa Sports 0 1 1986
MC Oran 0 1 1989
Nkana Red Devils 0 1 1990
SC Villa 0 1 1991
Ashanti Gold [pbt 4] 0 1 1997
Dynamos FC 0 1 1998
CS Sfaxien 0 1 2006
Coton Sport 0 1 2008
USM Alger 0 1 2015
  1. Including TP Englebert
  2. Including JE Tizi-Ouzou
  3. Including Iwuanyanwu Nationale FC
  4. Including Obuasi Goldfields

Performances by country

Country Titles Runners-up Total
 Egypt 14 8 22
 Tunisia 6 7 13
 DR Congo 6 6 12
 Morocco 6 3 9
 Algeria 5 2 7
 Cameroon 5 1 6
 Ghana 3 8 11
 Guinea 3 2 5
 Nigeria 2 5 7
 Ivory Coast 2 2 4
 South Africa 2 2 4
 Congo 1 0 1
 Mali 0 2 2
 Sudan 0 2 2
 Tanzania 0 2 2
 Togo 0 1 1
 Zambia 0 1 1
 Zimbabwe 0 1 1

Performances by region

Federation (Region) Clubs Titles
UNAF (North Africa) Al Ahly (8), Zamalek (5), ES Tunis (4), Raja CA (3), ES Sétif (2), JS Kabylie (2), Wydad AC (2),
Club Africain (1), Étoile du Sahel (1), FAR Rabat (1), Ismaily (1), MC Alger (1),
UNIFFAC (Central Africa) TP Mazembe (5), Canon Yaoundé (3), CARA Brazzaville (1), Oryx Douala (1), Union Douala (1),
Vita Club (1)
WAFU (West Africa) Hafia (3), Asante Kotoko (2), Enyimba (2), ASEC Mimosas (1), Hearts of Oak (1),
Stade d'Abidjan (1)
COSAFA (Southern Africa) Mamelodi Sundowns (1), Orlando Pirates (1) 2
CECAFA (East Africa)

See also


  1. "CAF partner and sponsors".
  2. "Asante Kotoko, the great porcupines of Africa".
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-03-18. Retrieved 2005-05-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. "CAF signs sponsorship deal". BBC. BBC. 21 October 2004. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  5. "Orange signs deal to sponsor African soccer competitions". Reuters. Reuters. 28 July 2009. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  6. "Total to sponsor CAF competitions for the next eight years". Africa News. Africa News. 21 July 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  11. "CAF Executive Committee decisions". 2009-09-16. Retrieved 2010-02-12.
  12. "CAF Executive Committee decisions". 2009-09-16. Retrieved 2010-02-12.
  13. "Prize money for CAF competitions effective 2017".
  14. TV takers List CAF chammpions League CAF Online.
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