Sundowns could be handed automatic entry into group phase of next Caf Champions League

Mamelodi Sundowns assistant coach, Manqoba Mngqithi has some fun with the Shell Helix Ultra Cup trophy on Saturday July 21 2018 along with strikers Jeremy Brockie and Anthony Laffor at FNB Stadium. Sundowns won 2-1 to lift the inaugural tournament.
Mamelodi Sundowns assistant coach, Manqoba Mngqithi has some fun with the Shell Helix Ultra Cup trophy on Saturday July 21 2018 along with strikers Jeremy Brockie and Anthony Laffor at FNB Stadium. Sundowns won 2-1 to lift the inaugural tournament.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Mamelodi Sundowns will be handed automatic entry into the group phase of the next African Champions League if they win this year’s competition.

But without a victory at the halfway point of their group campaign‚ that is now looking something of a stretch for the ‘Brazilians’.

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) have decided that the winners of the 2018 Champions League will skip the preliminary rounds for the next edition‚ which will start almost immediately.

Caf are switching the timing of their two annual club competitions after more than five decades of starting each February and concluding each November.

Now‚ because of complaints from clubs like Sundowns‚ the Caf Champions League and the Caf Confederation Cup will begin in August and end in May‚ mirroring the seasons of most of the major domestic leagues on the continent.

The switch happens this year but to avoid an overlap between the 2018 editions and the 2018-19 competition‚ as soon as the one is completed the other will start.

The two legs of the Champions League final are being held in October and the preliminaries for the next Champions League begin in late November.

But the holders will skip the early knockout rounds because they clash with the Club World Cup in December‚ where the 2018 Champions League winners will be headed to represent Africa.

Sundowns’ hopes of winning the current edition of the Champions League lie in the balance after a shock defeat in Togo last week.

They met AS Port Togo again at home on Friday‚ July 27 at Atteridgeville and must win to keep alive their chances of advancing to September’s quarter-finals.

Sundowns and Orlando Pirates will represent South Africa in the 2018-19 Champions League with cup winners Free State Stars and Kaizer Chiefs playing in the African Confederation Cup.

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