Sundowns could be handed automatic entry into group phase of next Caf Champions League

23 July 2018 - 12:42 By Mark Gleeson
Mamelodi Sundowns players and technical staff celebrate lifting the Shell Helix Ultra Cup match after their 2-1 win over rivals Kaizer Chiefs at the FNB Stadium, Johannesburg on July 21 2018.
Mamelodi Sundowns players and technical staff celebrate lifting the Shell Helix Ultra Cup match after their 2-1 win over rivals Kaizer Chiefs at the FNB Stadium, Johannesburg on July 21 2018.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Mamelodi Sundowns will be handed automatic entry into the group phase of the next Caf Champions League if they win this year’s competition.

But without a victory at the halfway point of their group campaign‚ that is now looking something of a stretch for the ‘Brazilians’.

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) have decided that the winners of the 2018 Champions League will skip the preliminary rounds for the next edition‚ which will start almost immediately.

Caf are switching the timing of their two annual club competitions after more than five decades of starting each February and concluding each November.

Now‚ because of complaints from clubs like Sundowns‚ the Champions League and the Confederation Cup will begin in August and end in May‚ mirroring the seasons of most of the major domestic leagues on the continent.

The switch happens this year but to avoid an overlap between the 2018 editions and the 2018-19 competition‚ as soon as the one is completed the other will start.

The two legs of the Champions League final are being held in October and the preliminaries for the next Champions League begin in late November.

But the holders will skip the early knockout rounds because they clash with the Club World Cup in December‚ where the 2018 Champions League winners will be headed to represent Africa.

Sundowns’ hopes of winning the current edition of the Champions League lie in the balance after a shock defeat in Togo last week.

They meet AS Port Togo again at home on Friday‚ July 27 at Atteridgeville and must win to keep alive their chances of advancing to September’s quarter-finals.

Sundowns and Orlando Pirates will represent South Africa in the 2018-19 Champions League with cup winners Free State Stars and Kaizer Chiefs playing in the Confederation Cup.


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