SAFA hopeful of AmaZulu’s CAF participation

Benni McCarthy (Head Coach) of AmaZulu celebrating with his technical staff

South African Football Association (SAFA) is optimistic that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) will grant AmaZulu FC the chance to participate in the CAF Champions League.

Usuthu qualified for the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history after securing a second-place finish on the DStv Premiership standings this term.

However, AmaZulu’s participation in Africa’s biggest football tournament could be prohibited should their DStv Premiership rivals Kaizer Chiefs win this season’s Champions League.

Chiefs are set to take on Moroccan giants Wydad Casablanca in a two-legged semi-final tie later this month and the winner on aggregate will face Egypt’s Al Ahly or Tunisian champions Esperance de Tunis in the final.

CAF rules on Article 5 under “Engagements” state that “In case the association is allowed to engage two teams and the champion is defending its title‚ only the holder of the title and the champion of the national league will be allowed to be engaged.

“In that particular case‚ the 2nd of the league will not be allowed to engage in CAF Champions League. In case the holder of the title is at the same time is the champion of the national league‚ he will be engaged with the 2nd of the national league and the 3rd classified team will not be allowed to participate.

“In case the holder of the title is at the same time the second of the national league‚ he will be engaged with the 1st of the national league and the 3rd team will not be allowed to engage.

“No Association will be allowed to engage more than two clubs within the CAF Champions League. The association of the holder of the CAF Champions League is not allowed to engage another team in case the holder of CAF Champions League is defending its title. Only the holder of the title is engaged from this association when the said association is entitled to only one club.”

However, Safa’s chief executive officer Tebogo Motlanthe is hoping that CAF does not prohibit the KwaZulu-Natal giants from taking part in the prestigious competition.

“They (CAF) may extend the spots‚ it depends on what the Caf Competitions Committee decides‚” Motlanthe told Sowetan Live.

“Remember that as a country currently we have two Champions League spots‚ and you can’t close Chiefs out if they win the tournament because there must be a defending champion.

“But at the same time you can’t also prejudice AmaZulu because it is a written rule that number two qualifies for the tournament,” he added.

“We used to have three spots. They may decide to have three again‚ depending on the circumstances.”

In 2015, CAF allowed three clubs from the same country to take part in the Champions League which saw Algerian clubs Entente Setif, USM Alger and MC El Eulma reach the group stage.

This was after Setif, who had won the previous Champions League title in 2014, failed to finish in the top two places in the domestic league, Algerian Ligue Professionnelle 1 during the 2013/14 season.

Algeria were then handed a rare chance of having three teams in the competition by the continent’s football controlling body as defending champions Setif were joined by their local rivals USM Alger and Eulma.