So the caf champions league final will be contested between Esperance and Wydad.This adds to the long standing tradition of north African dominance in African football which has seen clubs from that region win 89 continental trophies.The first Caf organized event took place inthe 1964-65 season it took four years for a north African team to make the final it was Al ismaily from egypt in 1968 the won it infront of 130,000 fans at the Naser stadium in Cairo.Ghal el mahalla from egypt made the final in 1974 but lost and Mc Alger won the competition in 1976.North African dominance begun inthe 1980s where from 1981-1994 saw a north African team win the competition exept for 1983 where Al ahly lost to Asante Kotoko from Ghana.This period saw Raja,Wydad,Esperance,Zamalek and Club Africain all win tittles.It is similar story inthe much younger Caf confedarations cup which has seen ten out of it’s fourteen instalments being won by North African teams.The two main factors are money and Fanbases.
North African teams generate yearly incomes of more than $10 million.Last year saw record Wydad Casablanca generate $12 million which is a club record and Champions league winners Esperance generated $9 million.Cairo based sides Al ahly and Zamalek generate much larger sums than that.Pyramids of Egypt were recently taken over by a saudi billionare and they spent more than $50 million on transfers alone which is unheard of in Africa With that much money at disposal north African teams tend to have better infrastracture and can attract better quality players A prime example is Anice Badri at esperance the Tunisian midfielder is a Lyon academy graduate and has been senastional since he joined the Tunisian giants as they push for a second champions league tittle in two years other African countries normally rely on the government for money which means when the goverments don’t have money then their is no money and this is the case most of the time. The richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote, is Nigerian,” Andrew Randa, a Nigerian journalist who reports on the Nigerian Premier Football League said.
“He was rumoured to have wanted to take over Arsenal FC twice, and Nigerians ask why he cannot invest in Kano Pillars, a club from his home region? But football is political in Nigeria, it is used as a bargaining chip. Most Nigerian clubs revolve around government agencies.”“For now, everything is in the hands of government; but there will be significant improvement the time private investors, with real commitment, come in and own [a] greater percentage of the shares. Government cannot continue to run every aspect of the system, it’s not possible at all,”Christian Chukwu a former nigerian national team coach told The Independent of Nigeria.Speaking to DW,Gabon striker Chico Sassou said,“Here in Gabon, football is organised by the state. When the state has problems, as a player, you get less money.”
This seems to be changing though as more teams are being taken over by wealthy individuals for example Enyimba in Nigeria who have a patnership with english premier league side West ham United and Guinea’s Horoya AC, which is owned by millionaire Antonio Souaré.
He ensures Horoya has a budget of $5 million and is also financing a brand new stadium and a state of the art football academy.
In East Africa, diversified revenue streams are slowly being established. The Ugandan Premier League recently signed a 10-year, $7-million TV deal with Chinese television channel StarTimes. The Kenyan Premier League has developed a partnership with La Liga, which it consults concerning television deals as well.
A club in the second division in Tunisia like Beja has facilities that are better than most first division teams in Africa.
This where the age old phrase without fans football is nothing comes to lighf.Even when the money and proper facilities are in place like in South Africa.
During the tail end of the 1990s, the ultra movement filtered down from Europe to North Africa. As a result, organised groups of supporters began choreographing chants, displaying tifos and travelling thousands of kilometres to away matches.
Teams like Raja and Wydad are respected all over the world for this.
The first ultra groups appeared in Tunisia and Morocco before spreading to Egypt and Algeria.
There’s a fear factor and mental block when most African teams travel to North Africa it happens year after year.Teams mostly play in empty stadiums during home matches but North African stadiums harbour volcanic atmospheres that intimidate visitors.
Sundowns’ coach, Pitso Mosimane, further fleshed out the intimidation his side experienced when playing in Algeria.
“The big thing about North Africans is all about the intimidation. When we were playing Setif, I remember at one stage one of my players was running down the line from the right side and the bottles were dropping from the top. I mean, how do you keep playing?”
Mosimane further indicated that Zamalek supporters issued death threats to his players leading up to the final of the 2016 CAF Champions League final the Brazilians won.
“There have been messages sent to the players, whoever has Instagram, Facebook, Twitter… they’ve received death threats, all of them.”
Following the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions, the governments of both nations imposed caps on attendance, slightly reducing the advantage.
With their superior fanbases and financial muscle Arab clubs look more and more unstoppable year after year.