CAF scrap Confederation Cup play-offs

Winners of Confederation Cup last-32 ties will now go directly into the group phase. 

Play-offs in the CAF Confederation Cup — the African equivalent of the Europa League — will be ditched from the 2023-2024 season, it was confirmed on Saturday.

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The decision to scrap the third and final round of qualifying for the group phase was made at a CAF executive committee meeting in Rabat.

Play-offs pitted winners of Confederation Cup last-32 ties against losers of CAF Champions League last-32 ties, and have been part of the competition since its 2004 debut.

Winners of Confederation Cup last-32 ties will now go directly into the group phase. 

A CAF statement gave no reasons for the decision, but the cost of competing in the Confederation Cup was likely to have been a factor.

Clubs receive prize money only from the group phase, meaning they must fund all costs for playing in the preliminary round, round of 32 and play-offs.

Cape Town City FC chairman John Comitis has said that it cost his club three million rand ($160,000/€145,000) in expenses to compete for three rounds in Africa last season. 

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Travelling is a challenge for clubs in Africa with limited flight options and high costs, and teams from southern nations often fly to northern countries via Doha or Dubai to cut costs.

Title-holders USM Alger of Algeria and former winners FUS Rabat of Morocco and Zamalek of Egypt are among the clubs who have entered the 2023-2024 Confederation Cup.

The preliminary round is scheduled for August, the round of 32 for September/October and the first group matches will be played on December 3.