You asked for it and now you get it. CAFCL Gazette and African Soccer Updates have started working together. We spoke to Sihle Blose about a few things African football and the football enthusiast had much to say. Read the interview below.
What is African Soccer Updates all about?
African Soccer Updates is about football in Africa. It seeks to create a platform that spreads the good news about football in Africa and, more importantly, giving a voice to football in Africa. We are in an Africa where media disregards football in Africa. African Soccer Updates gives an opportunity to let Africa see what is happening on African football.
Which are your 2 favourite African football leagues?
I support and follow every African league. They all are my favourite and they are all unique in different ways that excites me.
Name your most memorable CAF Champions League match.
It is very hard to pick one but the 2nd leg of the 2006 CAF Champions league final, CS Sfaxien vs Al Ahly, stands out.
Heading into the 2nd leg CS Sfaxien were absolute favourite having scored an away goal in Cairo (the match ended 1-1). Going into 90th minute CS Sfaxien were sure to winning the biggest club football title; until the 92nd minute when the great Mohammed Aboutrika decided to do things otherwise.
Should the CAFCL group stage remain at 16 teams or expand to 32 teams?
I prefer CAF Champions league to stay with 4 groups. I believe teams should sweat hard to reach the group stages, it should not be silver on the platter.
Obviously, there is a lot CAF still needs to work on to put the competition where it really is supposed to be – from assisting clubs with travelling, improving majorly on the marketing side of the competition and addressing the broadcasting challenges that makes it impossible for Africans to have access to the biggest clubs competition in Africa.
Do you support the move to play the CAFCL Final at a single venue?
I am of the opinion that CAF overreacted in taking this decision. The one leg takes away a lot from the CAF Champions league. It was not done in the interest of football in Africa. Instead of CAF taking responsibility of their shortcomings, they chose to go for a shortcut.
The dynamics of football in Africa are not the same as in the other continents. For me, there is no other alternative then sticking with the 2 legs final and CAF taking responsibility by properly managing the entire tournament right to the final 2 matches.
Do you think that company clubs like ZESCO Utd, Azam FC and ENPPI Club are good for African football?
Football in Africa is need of finances. If these companies can bring financial stable clubs why not allow them in? The biggest challenge with this is that when these companies struggle financially it affects the clubs as well. Therefore, it is important for the clubs to be run separately from the mother company to realise their full potential and survive in case the main company falls.
What practical steps can be taken to improve the situation of football leagues in West and East Africa?
One of the biggest challenges football in Africa is faced with is relying on government funding. The sooner Africa realizes that football is a business and that it needs to be treated as such, the better for football in Africa. This can only be achievable when FAs and leagues separate, allowing the league to be autonomous. It is only then that clubs can become business minded and aspire to own valuable assets. And it will be easier to attract sponsors.
It saddens me to see clubs like Young Africans throwing money away in hopes of learning from a team from another continent. The ideology that what works in another continent will work in Africa, is blocking football in Africa to find its true model of growth.
North African leagues are generally ahead in Africa. What do you think they can improve on?
ONE: If all North African leagues look at ensuring that they are accessible on TV across Africa it will do them a lot of good.
TWO: Ultras is a unique culture but it needs to be framed within acceptable safety standard for fans in stadiums. North Africa has to look at ultras culture with the intention of keeping fans in the stadium rather than pushing them away. This is done through proper engagement with these groups.
THREE: North African clubs need to find honorable ways in which they deal with players and coaches contracts. Often, they are reported to FIFA by players and coaches for situation that could have easily been addressed between 2 parties.
Lastly, do you support Zamalek’s complaints about the Club of the Century Award?
Zamalek have their own legitimate reasons to complain about this award. It is not my place to question them on it. The honors are on CAF to always take decisions that are in the interest of football in Africa. No matter the criteria agreed on there was always going to be about an award of this nature.
This is almost the same with CAF Player footballer of the year, which is not in the interest of football in Africa. The Club of the Century Award was always going to sow seeds of division, which we are seeing here in this case.
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