Photo by ERICKY BONIPHACE/AFP via Getty Images.
Thousands Flock to Witness Historic African Football League Debut in Tanzania
The inaugural match of the African Football League unveils a new era for African football, drawing enthusiastic crowds to Tanzania's Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium.
Enthusiastic supporters of Simba Sports Club, brimming with euphoria, proudly donned their team's red and white colors as they queued up for tickets to witness the inaugural match of the highly anticipated African Football League, hosted in Tanzania. In Dar es Salaam, we observed Simba Sports Club competing against Al Ahly FC. This novel competition is poised to revolutionize African club football, and the foundation stone for the second phase of development at the Kigamboni Technical Centre was laid by Gianni Infantino
The newly established African Football League, a confluence of eight of the continent's premier clubs, kicked off in the economic hub of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, amid an exuberant crowd eager to witness a "historic match" pitting Simba Sports Club against the Egyptian powerhouse, Al Ahly.
The Benjamin Mkapa stadium saw every seat occupied, underscoring the significance of this tournament, initiated by CAF with the objective of "enhancing the quality of soccer in Africa and fostering financial growth" among the participating clubs.
The FIFA President graced Tanzania with his presence, participating in the opening ceremony and witnessing the inaugural match of the African League Football (AFL), a groundbreaking competition set to transform club football across the continent. Mr. Infantino watched Simba Sports Club, the home side, face off against the Egyptian titan, Al Ahly FC, in the company of CAF President Patrice Motsepe and Wallace Karia, the President of the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF). The quarter-final's first-leg clash concluded in a 2-2 draw.
Mr. Infantino expressed his satisfaction with being in Dar es Salaam for the launch of the new African Football League. He also engaged in discussions on football development with Wallace Karia, President of the Tanzania Football Federation, and other African Federation presidents, acknowledging their warm welcome.
The AFL is the latest fruit of the productive partnership between CAF and FIFA, and its inaugural format brings together eight of Africa's most renowned and accomplished teams, with plans to expand to 24 teams in 2024, aiming to spotlight the quality of the game on the continent.
Other fixtures included Tout Puissant Mazembe (Congo DR) versus Espérance Sportive de Tunis (Tunisia), Enyimba Football Club (Nigeria) against Wydad Athletic Club (Morocco), and Atlético Petróleos de Luanda (Angola) versus Mamelodi Sundowns FC (South Africa).
Mr. Infantino expressed his gratitude to CAF President Patrice Motsepe and the entire African football community for their ongoing initiatives aimed at the constant development of football in Africa. He noted that the AFL would mark the dawn of a new era characterized by increased visibility, accelerated growth, and enhanced development for African football.
During his visit, the FIFA President also laid the foundation stone for the second phase of construction at the TFF's Kigamboni Technical Centre in Dar es Salaam, a FIFA Forward project that, like the Tanga Technical Centre on the north coast, aims to fund initiatives such as pitch construction, technical centers, and competition organization.
FIFA's Chief of Global Football Development, Arsène Wenger, and Chairman of FIFA Referees Committee, Pierluigi Collina, were part of the FIFA delegation. Wenger emphasized the pivotal role the center would play in identifying and nurturing talented players in Tanzania, expressing optimism for the future of Tanzanian football.
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