When will we have a Caf Club crowned as Club World Cup Champion?
Club World Cup 2016 has come and gone Real Madrid of Spain were crowned as Champions after defeating the host country club from Japan, Kashima Antlers 4-2 after extra time. The score was 2-2 at full time. Real Madrid were 1st and Kashima Antlers came 2nd. Our 2016 Caf Champions League winners Mamelodi Sundowns are back at home after coming 6th in this , 7 teams tournament. Please be reminded that the 2015 African Champions League Winners TP Mazembe came 6th in in this tournament.
Let’s congratulate Mamelodi Sundowns for this big achievement for the whole country, Sadec region and whole continent. Please know, I’m not celebrating mediocrity, I’m just being practical, given that it is the first time that Sundowns participated in the Club World Cup. The biggest achievement for Mamelodi Sundowns, Sadec and Africa was for Sundowns being there, treated the same like Real Madrid participating as Africa’s Champions against other Champions of other continents. The experience they got is unquantifiable and will leave with all who were there particularly the players, for the rest of their lives.
I’m not sure whether everyone understand this tournament. The Club World Cup is the biggest and the ultimate club competition. Just like the World Cup where nations play against each other after every 4 years the Club World Cup happens annually. Since its inception in 2000 the Club World Cup happened every year in December where 6 Continental Champions played amongst each other in 1 country to get the Cup World Cup Champions and since 2007 the host Premier or highest League Champion was introduced to make the tournament a 7 team tournament to get the ultimate winner to be crowned the Club World Cup Champion. Remember although Orlando Pirates won the Champions League in 1995 but unfortunately they never participated in this tournament as this tournament was started in 2000.
As we know there are 7 continents in the World but 6 participates as the 7th is the Antarctica which cannot participate as there are no clubs there to say the least but if we go further there are no residing people there permanently. Each of the 6 continents has a Confederation of Football which organizes and manages football for the whole continent. Each of the 6 Continents has an annual champions League winners, and 1 host country League winners making it 7 winners participating tournament those who participated in 2016 were the following:
European Union of Football Association ( EUFA) Champions League winners, Real Madrid of Spain
Confederation of African Football Association (Caf) champions League winners, Mamelodi Sundowns FC of South Africa)
Oceania Football Confederation Champions League winners by Auckland City from New Zealand
Asian Football Confederation Champions League winners, Jeonbuk from South Korea
Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Football Association( CONCACAF) Champions Cup winners, Club America from Mexico
South American Football Association ( CONMEBOL) The Copa de Libertadores winners, Athletico Nacional from Uruguay
Asian Football Confederation Host Country League winners Kashima Antlers from Japan.
B. The next question is, what level is our South African, Sadec and African club football compared to other continents in the World?
Mamelodi Sundowns Head Coach Pitso Mosimane summed it up very well about Mamelodi Sundowns level compared to the Worlds level in his after tournament interview by saying ” We know our level in South Africa, and we know our level in Africa and NOW we know our level in global football”.
I think that was a summary hence I would like to take this discussion further so that we are sober about our clubs level in South Africa, Sadec and Africa to be able to draw short , medium and long term objectives for our clubs.
According to Fifa, EUFA and CONMEBOL presently are ranked obviously 1st and 2nd judging by the fact that these 2 Confederation’s clubs automatically qualify for the Semi Finals and all other 4 Confederations play to come to the final 2 Semi Finals slots. Considering the standard of the 2 exempted Confederations and number of games they play in the continents I understand that approach.
According to 2015 and 2016 Club World Cup statistics and even before, CONCACAF and ACF clubs are consistently the number 3 and 4 in this tournament, but still play the quarter finals
with CAF and OCEANIA with host country having play off with the smaller and far behind in ratings OCEANIA.
Therefore we need in a short and medium term try to make our Confederations clubs particularly those in the Sadec region to be the 3rd or 4th consistently in this tournament:
Although TP Mazembe of the DRC is the most successful club in our region Sadec in this tournament having participated 3 times( 2009, 2010 and 2015)
Al Ahly is the most successful club continentally having participated in 2005, 2008, 2009,2012 and 2013)
Raja participated twice qualifying in 2000 and hosting in 2013
and finally S Etoile (2007), Esperance( 2011), SS Setief( 2014) and Mamelodi Sundowns(2016) have participated once.
Our African clubs have struggled to make an impact in this tournament. It is only northern region and Sadec region which are the only 2 regions which have participated in this tournament. Furthermore only the Nothern region, Morocco, has hosted it.
As our clubs consistently qualify for this tournament automatically by either winning the Caf Champions League or by hosting rarely, as Morocco has twice hosted this tournament in 2013 and 2014.
Even though our African clubs have inconsistently made it into the last 4 and even the last 2, yes TP Mazembe in 2010 and Raja Casablanca in 2014 played in the finals no African club has ever won it.
C. Why should clubs participate and what is the importance of winning it?
Business and Economy
Like the participation of TP Mazembe the one of Mamelodi Sundowns participation makes the whole world to take notice not of only our clubs but our region, Sadec and continent Africa. Foreign investors can look positively to invest not only to our economy but also to our sports including our athletes.
Prestige, support and respect.
This brings the above to our country, region and continent. Our athlete could be respected and recruited to other international leagues and make clubs to want to play and even have more pre Season camps in our country, region and continent.
We can get support should we want to host the club World Cup in the foreseeable future.
How can we work towards winning this club tournament?
The first way of trying to win it is, we need all clubs in their respective countries, more so those in the Sadec region and in the continent should take Caf tournaments seriously and participate fully.
The second way of winning it is by hosting the Club World Cup. In 2013-2014 Morocco hosted it and Wydad Casablanca played in the final and lost and in 2016 Kashima Antlers of Japan played in the final and lost 4-2 to Real Madrid after extra time as the game finished 2-2 on regular time. Never underestimate the power of home ground advantage. Our region needs to host and South Africa with the resources is the right country to host this tournament, for us to brighten the chances of winning it.
The clubs can only succeed to consistently qualify to the last 4.
Governments, business and Caf with its federations can support the clubs more.
Mike Ntombela: Director at Mike Ntombela Sports Management(MNSM) and From the Pitch to the Boardroom.