Sundowns chase double agenda in Champions League semi

football18 April 2024 15:00| © Backpage TXT
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Sundowns players @ Gallo images

Mamelodi Sundowns’ African Champions League semifinal against Tunisian giants Esperance will not only determine who plays in next month’s semifinals but also which of the clubs qualify for next year’s new-look Club World Cup.

Esperance host the first leg of the semifinal against Sundowns in Tunis on Saturday with the return in Pretoria next Friday, 26 April.

Africa has four places reserved at expanded Club World Cup in the United States from 15 June to 13 July next year, as the tournament has been increased to 32 teams as part of Fifa’s vision to create a universal club competition to rival that of the Uefa Champions League.

The four African clubs will be the winners of the four Champions League competitions between 2021 and 2024 but because Al Ahly of Egypt won two of the last three that has opened the door to one team who have not had Champions League success but been perennial contenders.

Al Ahly won the Champions League in 2021 and again last season, while Wydad Casablanca won in 2022 and so both have already secured their berth in the US.

The victor in this year’s Champions League also goes to next year’s Club World Cup, which also opens the door for TP Mazembe Englebert of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mazembe meet Al Ahly in the other semifinal.


Sundowns are on course for this year’s crown but if they do not win, they are also leading the points race for the last African slot at the Club World Cup.

That is being determined by a ranking of performances in the Champions League over the last four years.

Sundowns top this ranking with 98 points and can only be caught by Esperance, on 90 points.

Both teams will qualify if one of them or Al Ahly wins the Champions League.

That means that Sundowns will be going to the Club World Cup if they beat Esperance in the semifinal.

There are also other permutations.

They will also qualify if Al Ahly eliminate TP Mazembe in the other semifinal, irrespective of the result of their match against Esperance.

But if Mazembe beat Al Ahly and Sundowns lose to Esperance, then Sundowns will only go to tournament in the US if Esperance beat Mazembe in the final.