The turn of the Century was obviously a time to recognize the best football teams and players of the 20th Century. CAF chose to come up with a formula to identify the African Club of the Century. A point system that accounting for more than just number of titles won was used.
They are not too different from us in that regard. We have the CAFCL Gazette Power Rankings, which ranks team by league and continental form. It is brilliant.
Al Ahly topped CAF’s ranking with 40 points. Zamalek was second with 37 points. Asante Kotoko and Canon Yaounde tied at third with 34 points. You will be surprised to know that only 4 clubs in the top 10 were from North Africa.
Not everyone was happy with this outcome. Zamalek made an official complaint about it and actually consider themselves the Club of the 20th Century. Asante Kotoko went as far as accept recognition as African Club of the Century from International Federation for Football History and Statistics (IFFHS).
Asante Kotoko garnered the most points in continental matches but that is not really how it works, does it? So, let’s look at the Ahly’s and Zamalek’s claim for this recognition – it is once in a life time after all.
Al Ahly’s case for Club of the Century
It is really simple for Al Ahly. They are content that CAF was in charge of the criteria and that CAF is the only body that can officially recognize such a club. Ahly agree with CAF’s decision to consider how often the team’s reached the knockout stages of CAF interclub competitions. A team that consistently performs at a high level should be praised even if they do not ultimately win the trophy.
This Cairo team also asks why the African teams did not complain at the time. Why did Asante Kotoko and Zamalek go quitely as Al Ahly was identified as the African Club of the Century?
Zamalek’s case for Club of the Century
Zamalek go by the fact that they won more trophies. Football is about winning at the end of the day, right? The White Knights won 7 African titles to Al Ahly’s 6. They also insist that the Afro-Asian cup should be recognized as an official continental (intercontinental?) title. FIFA does recognize it as an official international title. Zamalek won this trophy 2 times while Ahly won it only once.
Zamalek also complain that the weighting was done wrong. They say that Al Ahly got too many points for winning the Africa Cup Winners Cup.
Zamalek’s complaints are legitimate. But good performance in knockout stages should be recognized in picking a Club of the Century. This is why we consider Esperance Tunis to be just as good as Al Ahly in the 21st Century. It is easier to reach the top than stay there.
Zamalek can only blame themselves for not being consistent in CAF interclub competitions. Therefore, CAFCL Gazette agrees with CAF that Al Ahly is the African Club of the Century.