Sundowns qualify for Club World Cup despite Champions League calamity

football27 April 2024 11:36| © Mzansi Football
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Mamelodi Sundowns have qualified for next year’s Club World Cup despite their elimination from the African Champions League on Friday, world football’s governing body Fifa confirmed on Saturday.

Sundowns will take up one of the four African berths in the 32-team line-up for the tournament from June 15-July 13, 2025 as Fifa expand the size of the event in an attempt to take on Uefa for dominance of the international club market.

The African slots are for the Champions League victors from 2021 to 2024 but while this might seem a simple formula, it became anything but and allowed Sundowns a route to the US through the back door.

They lost 1-0 at home to Esperance of Tunisia on Friday in the second leg of their semifinal tie to go out 2-0 on aggregate, failing for an eighth successive year to reach the final despite a strong showing in the group phase.

“Mamelodi Sundowns and ES Tunis have become the third and fourth CAF teams to book their tickets to the inaugural Mundial de Clubes Fifa (Fifa Club World Cup 2025) completing the list of qualifiers from Africa,” the statement from Zurich said.

“With previous winners Al Ahly of Egypt through to the CAF Champions League final once again, both the South African side and the Tunisian outfit are now guaranteed a ticket to the Fifa Club World Cup via the ranking pathway.”

Al Ahly won in 2021 while Wydad Casablanca were 2022 winners, filing the first slots.

When Al Ahly won last year again, Fifa decided to make a log table of the best performance of other clubs in the Champions League over the last four years, awarding points for results in the group and knockout stages, to determine who would also go the US

Sundowns and Esperance emerged as the two runaway leaders in this poll.

Only TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo could stand in Sundowns way but they would have had to win this year’s Champions League to qualify for the Club World Cup.

As it was, Mazembe lost 3-0 in their semifinal, second leg tie to Al Ahly in Cairo on Friday, going out by the same aggregate score.