CAPE TOWN - There is now a lot more to play for in the PSL than just winning the league title. A number of new resolutions emanated from the recent Caf Symposium and Caf Congress in Rabat, Morocco, and a major boost for football in South Africa is the awarding of four places in the lucrative African Champions League.
Previously, only two clubs were allowed entry into the event - the PSL champions and runners-up - but, especially considering how excellently the country has performed on the continent over the last few years, the number has been increased to four.
“It makes it similar to the English Premier League,” said Safa president Danny Jordaan, “The first priority of a club is to win the league, but when that is out of reach, then the next step is to try and finish in the top four to qualify for the Champions League. In the PSL, there will now be that same motivation.”
Orlando Pirates galvanised South Africa’s continental elevation by reaching the final of the Champions League in 2013 and then followed that up with a runners-up finish in the 2015 Caf Confederation Cup. Subsequent to that, Mamelodi Sundowns went all the way last season to win the Champions League and heap pride and glory on football in SA.
Because of this, and the continued advancement of the PSL, both on and off the field, it has been rewarded with four places in the most prestigious club competition on the continent.
The other big change flowing from the CAF meeting is that, from 2019, there will be 24 countries participating in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), which is an increase from the previous number of 16. Afcon 2019 is scheduled for Cameroon.
In addition, the timing of the event has also been changed. It will no longer be held in January and February, but will instead be shifted to the months of June and July. It will, however, still take place every two years.
“This is good for the game,” said Jordaan, who is a Caf executive member. “Africa has simply synchronised its calendar with the rest of the world and this will benefit Africa a great deal. We are likely to witness more competitive tournaments, with more viewership and definitely more revenue."
Jordaan added that the main reason for the increase in the number of teams is in keeping with the gradual growth of the Afcon tournament.