CAF Relegates Nigeria in Continental Club Competitions

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Femi Solaja

Following the dismal performance of Nigerian representatives in all continental club competitions in the last five years, the Confederation of African Football (CAF), has relegated the country with several others to the second cadre of its annual club competitions.

The result of the development is that only the winner of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) will play in the elite CAF Champions League and same thing applies to CAF Confederation Cup with only the winner of the AITEO Federation Cup to represent the country with no place for the runners up.

Just Wednesday, Enyimba FC became the only surviving Nigerian club in continental club competition after the elimination MFM FC, Plateau United and Akwa United from CAF Confederation Cup play off stage.

Nigeria, according to Article 2 under General Provision of CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup regulations, is one of the 12 countries previously granted automatic two slots for the winner and runner up of the domestic league for a period of five years.

Within that period of five years from 2013- 2017, the coefficients have been counting with Nigeria having one of the lowest rating within the stipulated calendar.

The latest scenario translates to disadvantage for Nigeria that has failed to play in the money-spinning CAF Champions League for the second consecutive year.

The CAF coefficient rating for 12 countries released yesterday showed that Tunisia with 116 points and Egypt (106.5 points) are the first two power houses in inter-club business in the continent respectively.

They automatically reserve the right to have two representatives for the next five years in all the CAF continental club competitions.

Other countries in the top cadre include; Democratic Republic of Congo (90), Morocco (84), Algeria (82.5), South Africa (78.5), Sudan (53), Zambia (38), Libya (19), Cameroon (15), Côte d’ Ivoire (15) and Mozambique (15).

Nigeria and Ethiopia dropped to the second group of countries with 10.5 points and below. Other notable countries in this group are; Ghana, Gabon, Uganda, Angola, Mali, Congo, Guinea, Tanzania and Swaziland.

The continental ruling body CAF introduced the format which was a template borrowed from UEFA for its inter-club competitions and the calculation is based on the strength of the respective domestic leagues.

According to CAF, from next season, the calendar for inter-club competitions will be a transitional one which allows the competitions to switch from a February-to-November schedule to an August–to-May one based on the decision of the CAF Executive Committee held on 20 July, 2017.

The new season will start in December 2018, right after the 2018 season has ended and end in May 2019, before the 2019 African Cup of Nations (which has been switched from January/February to June/July).

The next season will then start after the Africa Cup of Nations and follow the new calendar.