ZamFoot Blockbuster: Importance of CAF rankings to clubs and member associations and how it works
Not all member associations send four teams in CAF club competitions and not all clubs start playing from the first preliminary round. Also, the seeding of teams in pots for group stages depends on the rankings.
Top 12 member associations according to their CAF 5 year ranking send 4 teams in the CAF club competition,2 in the CAF champions league, and 2 in the CAF confederation cup
Case of CAF champions league…..as an example
In CAF champions there’s preliminary round, first round, group stage, quarter-final, semi-final, and finals in that order.
44 clubs with low points in CAF club competitions who qualify for CAF champions league start from preliminary round with 22 teams advancing to the first round after playing home and away on a two-legged basis with a winner decided on aggregate scores with the team which scores more away goals qualifying if both teams finish on same goals on aggregate and if they still get tied, the match goes straight to penalties with no extra time allowed. This also applies to the first round which is the next stage after the preliminary round.
Top 10 clubs with the highest points in the CAF rankings start playing from the first round in the CAF champions league where they are paired with 22 teams who have qualified from preliminary round with 16 winners/teams who emerge winners advancing to group stages of four in each group while 16 losers/teams enter the first round of confederation cup
The top 4 teams who qualify for the group stage are put in pot 1, those ranked from 5th to 8th are put in pot 2 while that ranked 9th to 12th are put in pot 3 with least ranked or non seeded teams are put in 4.
One team is picked from each pot to make a group of four. This also applies to the second-tier CAF club competition which is the CAF confederation cup when placing teams in groups.
Case of CAF confederation cup
In the CAF confederation cup, there is preliminary round, first round, play-off round, group stage, quarter-final, semi-final, and final.
38 clubs with low points in CAF club competition who qualify for CAF confederation cup start from a preliminary round with 19 teams advancing to the first round following the same qualification format used for CAF champions league.
The top 13 clubs with the highest points in the CAF rankings who have qualified for the confederation cup start playing from the first round of CAF confederation cup where they are placed with 19 winners/teams who emerged winners in the preliminary round making a total of 32 teams with 16 winners/teams advancing to the playoff round.
What should not be forgotten at this stage is that they are 16 teams that have been demoted into the CAF confederation cup from CAF champions who failed to make it to the group stage in the first round stage.
In the play-off stage, teams relegated from the CAF champions league can not face each other at this stage same with teams in the CAF confederation cup who have advanced from the first round can not face each other.
Instead what happens at this stage is 16 teams from CAF champions league will be paired with teams who have advanced from the first round of CAF confederation cup with teams from CAF confederation cup hosting second legs meaning all teams relegated from CAF champions league start two-legged encounters with teams from the first round of CAF confederation cup at home with the qualification of aggregate rules used in preliminary and first-round stage applicable.16 winners/teams qualify to the group stage of four in each.
A brief recap of the ranking system
CAF member association ranking system runs for 5 years/seasons meaning associations who finished with highest points at the end of the previous 5 years/seasons CAF club competition ranking system will send 4 teams in the competition for the next 5 years/seasons with changes to the ranking of member associations and how teams to send in the CAF club competition applicable after the 5 years/season period awarded to each member association finishes.
Teams and member associations get to leapfrog each other during and at the end of every 5 years/season with member associations get to be affected or receive changes of how many teams to send into competitions only become effective after the 5 years/season elapses so meaning if teams from each member association don’t perform well during the 5-year ranking system, they will continue sending same number teams and changes will come after the five years. Here is an example;
Before the start of 2019-2020 CAF club competition, Zesco united was ranked as the best 12th club in Africa based on points they accumulated in the 5 years/season which ran from 2016 season to 2018/19 season but since it didn’t perform well in 2019-2020 CAF club competition where it exited in the group stage of CAF confederation cup it has found itself on number 15 for 2020-2021 based on points they accumulated from 2016 season to 2019/20 season though it is not participating in the current CAF club competition meaning teams which are from 16th and going up which will perform well in the current competition will leapfrog it because it is not taking part in the current CAF club competitions hence it can not accumulate any points currently. So Zesco will have zero points for 2021/22 CAF competitions because points it had accumulated will be quashed finally and teams like Nkana who are participating in this year’s season if they reach the group they will be seeded above Zesco United in the CAF club competitions 2022/23 season.
Case of clubs
The top 10 clubs who didn’t play in the preliminary round but joined in the first round for the 2019/2020 CAF champions league are as follows in order of points
1)Esperance of Tunisia with 63.5
2)TP Mazembe of DR Congo with 63 points
3)Wydad Casablanca of Morocco with 63 points
4)Al Ahly of Egypt with 57 points
5)Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia with 50 points
6)Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa with 49 points
7) Zamalek of Egypt with 44 points
8)Horoya of Guinea with 30 points
9)RS Berkane of Morocco with 28 points
10) USM Alger of Algeria with 25 points.
The top 10 clubs who didn’t play in the preliminary round but joined in the first round for the 2020/2021 CAF champions league are as follows in order;
1)Al Ahly of Egypt with 69 points
2) Wydad Casablanca of morocco with 65 points
3)Esperance de Tunis of Tunisia with 63 points
4)Tp Mazembe of DR Congo with 55 points
5)Zamalek of Egypt with 54 points
6)Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa with 49 points
7)RS Berkane of Morocco with 47 points
7)Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia with 47 points
9)Raja Casablanca of Morocco with 39 points
10) Horoya of Cameroun with 38 points
So from this, we can see that teams keeping leapfrogging each other as they accumulate and drop points as shown in the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons.
For example, in the 2019/20 CAF club competition member associations and teams were seeded and ranked for points accumulated for a period from the 2016 season to the 2019 season.
For 2020/21 CAF club competitions member associations and teams have been seeded and ranked for points accumulated for a period from the 2016 season to 2019/2020
What we should note is that CAF had changed the dates in 2018 so in 2018 two CAF club competitions started in quick session, there was 2018 season and 2018/2019 to change the format so as member associations who qualify for the world cup and AFCON don’t have to collide with the events freeing them from troubles of non-availability of players and fatigue which comes when preparing for the events as it was agreed that these two CAF club competitions will be ending before June which is the month for the world cup and AFCON unlike previously when it was ending in November.
So the last ranking system ended in 2019/20 season as it ran from 2016 season and the new one will run from 2020/21 season to 2021/25 season
So member associations who finished in the top 12 for the previous 5 years/season ranking system will send 4 teams into the CAF club competitions for the next five years which will run from 2020/21 season to 2024/25 season with no changes applicable as to how many teams to send during this period but nations and teams will keep leapfrogging each other standings in the process with member associations who will in top 12 brackets at the end of the current 5-year ranking calendar send 4 teams in the next five years/seasons editions.
So all member associations have started on zero points now since this season has marked the beginning of the new 5 years/season ranking system and teams will also start on zero points. But teams will be seeded on the points they finished with on the previous 5 years/season ranking for fairness and to avoid confusion to make things straight and simple and since they will start on zero points but seeded on points accumulated in the previous five seasons, it will be a one-off thing meaning for 2021/22 season teams will be seeded and ranked according to points they will accumulate in the 2020/21 season. This means that the points teams accumulated in the previous 5-year ranking will be finally erased and for the 2022/23 season teams will be ranked and seeded on points they will accumulate in 2020/21 and 2021/22 in total while for the 2023/24 season teams will be seeded and ranked for points accumulated in the 2020/21,2021/22 and 2022/23 season altogether. For the 2024/25 season, teams will be ranked according to points accumulated in 2020/21,2021/22,2022/23 and 2023/24 added together.
This will mark the end of the 5 year ranking season and now changes to member associations will become effective. 2025/26 will mark the beginning of another 5-year ranking system of which the top 12 member associations will be picked according to the highest points accumulated in the previous ranking system which ended in the 2024/25 season and teams will be seeded according to points they finished on in the previous rankings just once of which thereafter their points will be erased finally and for 2026/27 teams will be seeded according to new points they accumulated in the 2025/26 season.
Case of member associations….as an example
An example to understand this alluding to the rank of member associations. For the 2019/20 CAF club competition, member associations were ranked for points their teams accumulated in CAF club competition from the 2015 season to 2018/19 and the rankings were as follows in order of points
1) Tunisia with 154 points
2) Morocco with 153 points
3) Egypt with 120.5 points
4) Algeria with 92 points
5) DR Congo with 87 points
6) South Africa with 76.5 points
7) Zambia with 40.5 points
8) Sudan with 35 points
9) Nigeria 32.5 points
10) Guinea with 30 points
11) Angola with 21.5 points
12) Tanzania with 18 points
For 2020/2021 CAF club competition, member associations have been ranked for points accumulated in CAF competition from 2016 season to 2019/20 season and the rankings are as follows in order of points
1) Morocco with 190 points
2) Egypt with 167 points
3) Tunisia with 140 points
4) DR Congo with 83 points
5) Algeria with 81 points
6) South Africa with 68.5 points
7) Zambia with 43 points
8) Nigeria with 39 points
9) Guinea with 38 points
10) Angola with 36 points
11) Sudan with 29.5 points
12) Libya with 16.5 points
So member associations keep on leapfrogging each other during the 5-year ranking calendar but changes as to how many teams to send to the CAF inter-clubs Competitions with the combination coming to an effect after the 5-year calendar elapses.
This is how it works and how member associations and teams are ranked and seeded.
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