Where will Ghanaian clubs stand in new 32-Club World Cup format

The current 7-club FIFA Club World Cup has been expanded to now 32 clubs across the world that will be competing in the tournament in 2025. The expansion sees a change in format and the 2025 edition will be played like the usual Men’s World Cup.

Meaning teams will be grouped for a group stage phase, a move away from the initial knockout at the early stage of the FIFA Club World Cup. The new FIFA Club World Cup will be played every four years.

FIFA announced the new 32-club format of the Club World Cup on Friday. The 2025 edition of the Club World Cup will see for the time 32 teams compete in a tournament dominated by Spanish LaLiga force Real Madrid- they have 5 FIFA Club World Cup titles with their latest in 2022 in Rabat, Morocco.

The new 32-club format will begin in the USA in two years time. This milestone had began some years back and continental football associations have some key decisions to make. UEFA has 12 slots ahead of the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup that will be played in the same way as the usual senior FIFA World Cup.

UEFA has already determined four slots of its original twelve that consists of recent Champions League winners starting from 2021 to 2024. Chelsea. Real Madrid, Manchester City and awaiting 2024 winners of the Champions League are the first four UEFA clubs already qualified for the 2025 Club World Cup.

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The other UEFA 8 teams will be determined by the football governing body using UEFA coefficient club ranking within the same four-year period

A major rule of the new tournament limit two clubs from one country. Man City and Chelsea case is a exception of the tournament’s rule since they are all champions of the Champions League in the last four years.

By this, UEFA’s determination of the other 8 using the coefficient club ranking may not see two teams from same country qualifying for the World Cup finals in 2025. However, there is the likelihood that the 8 remaining teams may involve Premier League and Spanish LaLiga clubs.

CAF has been relieved of any pressure associated with selecting its teams for the new competition as the rules been set straightforward. The winners of the CAF Champions League in the last four year, from 21-24 will qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup in USA.

With this, no Ghanaian club will paly in the expanded Club World Cup two years later.

If CAF was to select African clubs for 2025 expanded Club World Cup 

If CAF was to make a decision about the African clubs that will participate in the new competition in two years time, it would still not involve Ghanaian clubs. Africa have four slots as stated in the new competition’s qualifiers directory and it would have remained unclear the criteria CAF wou;d use to select those clubs to play in the expanded Club World Cup.

Whatever criteria CAF would have used in choosing its four clubs for the tournament, African record holders of the CAF Champions League Al Ahly and last season’s champions Wydad Casablanca would have been selected.

CAF would have chose the four African clubs for the 2025 Club World Cup using similar criteria used for association members, in this case for example Egypt, Ghana, Morocco, South Africa etc. for the CAF Champions League.

If CAF uses this approach almost similar to what UEFA will use for its remaining 8 teams, Ghanaian clubs would still find it difficult of being selected to paly in the 2025 Club World Cup in America.

Because Ghana is eligible to one team entry into the CAF Champions League and further have limited chance of winning the title as compared to clubs from Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria.

CAF would have used 5-year ranking system that ascertain the number of points accumulated by a country and best ranking countries (currently Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, South Africa, DR. Congo, Guinea) will see their two clubs- league champions and runners up selected for the CAF Champions League and have higher chances to the FIFA World Cup than Ghanaian clubs.

Ghana is ranked 24th among Africa  countries and is placed in eligible to enter (the CAF Champions League) with one team. In this old format, the winner of the CAF Champions League would qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup which would likely not a Ghanaian club.

Ghanaian clubs have won the African Champions thrice with Asante Kotoko the most decorated side winning two and Hearts of Oak winning one in 2000.

Hearts of Oak was the first and as it stand now, the only Ghanaian club to qualify for the first ever Club World Cup held in Brazil. The Rainbow side was to meet Real Madrid in their first game but failed to honour the competition due to financial, political and management challenges. After failing to show up for the competition in 2000, it puts on record no Ghanaian club have participated in the Club World.

Selection based on African Super League for 2025 expanded Club World Cup 

If CAF was to use the new African Super League to select African clubs for the global clubs World Cup, Ghanaian clubs would be offered enhanced chances of qualifying to a FIFA Club World Cup but not for the 2025 edition.

The life span of the CAF Champions League has ended this year with Al Ahly the successful and last team to lift the title after beating Wydad Casablanca 3-1 in two-legged final.

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The African Super League whose name will be changed in months to come will replace the CAF Champions League. The new competition was introduced in 2019 to spice up football in Africa, launched in August 2022 and will start in October 2023 as revealed by CAF on Friday.

“In October this year, the inaugural Super League will commence; some people were asking for the dates, we have it,” Motsepe revealed during the FIFPRO Africa Congress in Gaborone, Botswana.

“Some of the big sponsors are saying ‘the history of the Super League in Europe was not good.’

“If you associate the name ‘super’ with a football competition, it has negative connotations. We may change the name, but what indeed is going to happen in October is the inaugural. I will keep using the name ‘the African Super League’ until we change it.

Twenty-four clubs are expected to start the African Super League with first Eight clubs Petro de Luanda (Angola), Mazembe (DR Congo), Horoya (Guinea), Wydad Atheltic Club (Morocco), Simba SC (Tanzania) and Esperance de Tunis (Tunisia) and Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) selected for the first edition for the African Super League.
Sixteen more clubs are needed to sum up the 24 to start the tournament in Africa, and Ghanaian giants Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak could still be offered call-up to play in the African Super League. The format of the CAF’s new elite clubs competition would enhance Ghanaian clubs’ chances for the 32-Club World Cup.
The African Super League will be played in zones with three regionalized groups North, Central/West and South/East set. Each group will consist of Eight teams and will base on promotion and relegation. Ghanaian clubs would see reduced teams and would likely to scape certain difficult clubs unlike in the previous CAF Champions League where they are handed north giants.
If CAF was to decide using leaders of the three groups which isn’t likely though, meaning there would have been addtional phase after the group stages, Ghanaian clubs could top their group and qualify for the next stage of the competition which would get them closer to the 32- Club World Cup.
For two criteria (old CAF Champions League format and FIFA’s last four years’ champions of the Champions League, Ghanaian clubs will not qualify to play in the expanded 32 Club World Cup. However, they would have enhanced chances if CAF use the Africa super League due to the new competition’s format that enable them escape tough opponents at early stage of the competition.

The essence of the African Super is huge financial returns, projected to exceed $100 million that will be used to improve infrastructure and promote the game on the continent.

 

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