Friday 20 October 2023, 19:25

Gianni Infantino attends opening match of the African Football League in Tanzania

  • FIFA President watched Simba Sports Club play Al Ahly FC in Dar es Salaam

  • The new competition is set to transform African club football

  • Gianni Infantino laid the foundation stone for second stage of development at the Kigamboni Technical Centre

The FIFA President has visited Tanzania where he attended the opening ceremony and inaugural match of the African League Football (AFL), the new competition which is set to transform club football on the continent. Gianni Infantino watched home side Simba Sports Club face Egyptian club Al Ahly FC in the company of the CAF President, Patrice Motsepe, and the President of the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF), Wallace Karia. The quarter-final first leg match ended 2-2. “I am pleased to be in Dar es Salaam for the launch of the new African Football League. I am also discussing football development with the Tanzania Football Federation President, Wallace Karia, who is welcoming us so well here, and other African Federations presidents,” Mr Infantino said.

The AFL is the latest result of the fruitful partnership between CAF and FIFA, and its debut format will bring together eight of Africa’s most famous and successful teams -- increasing to 24 in 2024 -- with the aim of highlighting the quality of the game on the continent. The other ties are: Tout Puissant Mazembe (Congo DR) v Espérance Sportive de Tunis (Tunisia), Enyimba Football Club (Nigeria) v Wydad Athletic Club (Morocco) and Atlético Petróleos de Luanda (Angola) v Mamelodi Sundowns FC (South Africa).

“I want to thank the CAF President, Patrice Motsepe, and the whole of African football for their initiatives in constantly developing football in Africa,” said Mr Infantino, who took part in the unveiling of the trophy before the match. He added that the AFL would herald the start of a new era of increased spotlight, accelerated growth, and development for African football.

The FIFA President also laid the foundation stone for second stage of construction of the TFF’s Kigamboni Technical Centre in Dar es Salaam which, like the Tanga Technical Centre on the north coast, is a FIFA Forward project. The FIFA Forward development programme is available to all 211 member associations to fund projects such as the building of pitches, technical centres and the organisation of competitions.

FIFA Chief of Global Football Development Arsène Wenger and Chairman of FIFA Referees Committee Pierluigi Collina were also part of the FIFA delegation. Mr Wenger said the centre would play a key role in helping Tanzania identify and develop talented players. “We have four to five years in front of us and, if we do it well, I'm sure that we’ll have good players everywhere in Tanzania,” he said.

The efficiency of what we do is a lot in identifying the talent. We will bring a team in here who has a capacity to identify the talent, and then, together, we’ll coach and train the talent.

Arsène Wenger
FIFA Chief of Global Football Development

Mr Infantino said he was delighted to lay the foundation stone and that the centre was “sure to be an excellent facility for helping to develop local football talent.” He added: “Many congratulations to CAF President, Patrice Motsepe, and Tanzania Football Federation President, Wallace Karia, for the initiatives undertaken in giving opportunities to young girls and boys to live their football dreams.” “The development of our beautiful game is a symbol of hope and I am looking forward to continuing our good work together.”