East Africa rolls out much-changed African Football League

Thursday October 19 2023

Wydad's forward Zouhair el-Moutaraji (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring during the Caf Champions League Semi-Final against Egypt's al-Ahly at Stade Mohammed V in the Moroccan city of Casablanca on May 30, 2022. PHOTO | AFP


East Africa plays host to the newly African Football League (AFL)’s opener on October 20.

The 60,000-seater Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania will be the epicentre and pitch for the inaugural clash pitting locals Simba and Egypt’s Al Ahly on Friday.

AFL was mooted but hatched in Arusha – the headquarters of the East African Community (EAC) - with two prominent footballing presidents in the world Confederation of African Football (Caf) President Patrice Motsepe and FIFA’s Gianni Infantino gracing the moments in August 2022.

Caf’s Secretary General Veron Mosengo-Omba on Wednesday said that AFL is Africa’s new footballing phenomenon which expresses the beauty of the continent’s landscapes, its people and their passion for ascending the footballing heights to reach the summit.

Read: CAF awards EA's 'Pamoja' bid 2027 Afcon rights

“The partnership with “Visit Rwanda” is a great milestone. I am pleased to announce our exciting partnership with a nation that epitomises the spirit of African football’s growth and potential. Together, we will unlock new horizons for the beautiful game on our continent, showcasing its breath-taking landscapes, vibrant culture, and the passion of our fans. We can’t wait to embark on this incredible journey together with “Visit Rwanda," he said.


The nation is one of the official “founding” sponsors of the AFL. Its airline RwandAir will also be flying in and out participants of the one-month long event across the continent.

The region’s acquired rights to host Afcon 2027 have been largely due to its “now” proven ability to host the inaugural AFL. The Mkapa Stadium has undergone a $12-million refurbishment to meet Caf strict pitch standards. The facility will offer digitilised motion pictures on in-built screens and VAR for the first time in the region. The five-star hotels in Dar es Salaam are fully booked and the Police Commander for the special Dar es Salaam Zone, Muliro Jumanne Muliro has today assured “safety” and announced seral measures to contain the flow of spectators on the match day at the Mkapa facility to prevent accidents.

The ministers for sports from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are expected to meet on the sidelines of the inaugural event before their scheduled meeting in Mombasa County later this month to strategise Afcon 2027 three-nation project worth billions.

AFL will have teams from every region in Africa competing for a title every year starting on October 20 2023 in Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania. 

This year’s competing football clubs, selected following Caf rankings, will include Al Ahly from Egypt, Wydad AC from Morocco, Espérance Sportive de Tunis from Tunisia, TP Mazembe from DR Congo, Enyimba from Nigeria, Mamelodi Sundowns from South Africa, ATL. Petro Luanda from Angola and Simba SC from Tanzania.

Read: Tanzania, Ghana champions drawn with giants Al Ahly

Rwanda Development Board (RDB) Chief Executive Officer Francis Gatare said AFL should translate into economic gains for countries in the region and beyond since it will be watched and followed by “over one billion audiences” adding that its ripple developmental and financial benefits should target “our young players, coaches, sports operators and private sector across the entire ecosystem”.

The prize money for the AFL is as follows:

  • $4,000,000 for the Winner
  • $3,000,000 for the Runner-up
  • $1,700,000 for each of the Semi-finalists
  • $1,000,000 for each of the Quarterfinalists

The winning club needs only to play six matches to win the substantial prize money.

The AFL is a CAF competition established in partnership with FIFA. One of the main objectives for forming the AFL is to ensure that the quality of African Club football is globally competitive and that African football Clubs are commercially viable. The AFL will also contribute to the development and growth of Youth football talent on the African Continent.

CAF’s intention is that all the 54 CAF Member Associations including the countries that may not have football Clubs in the AFL should benefit and receive financial contributions from the commercial viability and success of the AFL.