The final article in our CAF Champions League History brings us to the recently ended decade – the 2010s.
As we’ll read, North African sides further entrenched their power in this period, with a finalist in every year – the first decade this has happened. This was also the first decade in which two different South African sides reached the CAF Champions League final, while we witnessed the calamitous decline of West Africa sides.
Early 2010s – TP Mazembe retain crown, the North starts to rise
The beginning of the 2010s was a golden period for DR Congo side TP Mazembe, who won the 2010 CAF Champions League, successfully defending their 2009 crown. This was the second time Mazembe had achieved the feat, having also defended their 1967 crown in 1968.
1 – In 2010, TP Mazembe became the first ever African side to reach the FIFA Club World Cup final, but lost to Rafa Benitez’s Inter Milan.
Following two years without a finalist, North Africa immediately regrouped, and would provide the next four consecutive winners. This included back-back title wins for Al Ahly, the second time they had done a double in two decades. The second of those wins came against a South African side – Orlando Pirates, who along with Sundowns, TP Mazembe and AS Vita Club would fly the flag for the rest of the continent for a few years.
Mid 2010s – The North shares power with the South and Central
Orlando Pirates’ loss to Al Ahly in the 2013 final came on the back of an impressive campaign for the Buccaneers. They had met Al Ahly already in the group stage and won 3-0 away from home – at the time the Egyptians’ biggest loss in six years. Pirates drew the 1st leg of the final 1-1 at home, but could not repeat their group stage heroics, succumbing to a 2-0 loss in Cairo. Nonetheless, that battle betokened the war North African sides would face in the coming years. The waves of change looming, albeit in no particular direction.
9 – There were 9 different finalists in the five-year period between 2013 and 2017 (Al Ahly being the only repeat club). The last time there were 10 different clubs in a 5 year period was between 1989 and 1993.
Late 2010s – The North eviscerates all
2016 was the last year that a team from outside North Africa would reach the final. Since then, Al Ahly (3 times), Wydad AC (2), Esperance (2) and Zamalek (1) have battled it out in the final, with the latter the only side that failed to win. Part of the reason the North African sides dominated so much was the absence of challengers from the West.
0 – There was no West African side in any final in the 2010s, the first time a decade ended without a West Africann representative in the finals. South African sides Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs, Sundowns, SuperSport United and Bidvest Wits all took turns to represent South Africa in the CAF Champions League this decade. After Pirates reached the 2013 final, Sundowns went one better in 2016, and won the title, the second by a South African side.
Downs would go on to lift the Super Cup linked to that triumph, and also reach the quarter-finals in four of the next five editions of the tournaments. The latter part of the century was an especially impressive time for them, typified by this one result:
11:1 – Sundowns recorded the biggest ever victory in the history of the CAF Champions League, beating Seychelles’ Cote d’Or 11-1 in the second round in September 2019.
This success would prove influential in Al Ahly’s decision to recruit Sundowns’ Pitso Mosimane in October of 2020. Finding Al Ahly at the semi-final stage, Mosimane went on to lift the CAF Champions League in 2020.
3 – Mosimane became only the 3rd coach in CAF Champions League history to lift the title with two different clubs & the first since Oscar Fullone won two titles for Asec Mimosas & Raja Casablanca in 1998 & 1999.
And now, as he takes on a South African side in the final, he is on the verge of a third.
African Cup/Champions League Winners by year, team and country in the 90s:
2010: TP Mazembe (DR Congo)
2011: Espérance (Tunisia)
2012: Al Ahly (Egypt)
2013: Al Ahly (Egypt)
2014: ES Sétif (Algeria)
2015: TP Mazembe (DR Congo)
2016: Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa)
2017: Wydad AC (Morocco)
2018: Espérance (Tunisia)
2019: Espérance (Tunisia)
2020: Al Ahly (Egypt)
RELATED STORY: STATS: CAF Champions League History Part 3; The 2000s
By Opta Jabu