JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – South African clubs are back among the elite for the 2015 CAF competitions with two entrants each in the Champions League and Confederation Cup.
League winners Mamelodi Sundowns and runners-up Kaizer Chiefs will discover their fates Monday when the preliminary, first and second-round draws are made in Cairo.
Former African champions Orlando Pirates, and Wits University, are the South African qualifiers for the second-tier Confederation Cup.
Pirates lifted the African Champions Cup – forerunner to the Champions League – in 1995 and Chiefs won the now defunct African Cup Winners Cup six years later.
The leading 12 countries on merit are permitted two clubs each in both annual competitions with other nations restricted to one
Tunisia, Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo, Morocco, Nigeria, Sudan, Algeria, Mali, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville and Angola complete the elite.
South Africa dropped out of the top 12 in 2011 after poor results the previous year with Pirates suffering a humiliating Champions League loss to minnows Gaborone United of Botswana.
The Buccaneers flopped again in the preliminary round the following year after losing heavily at home against Angolans Recreativo Libolo.
But the Soweto-based Buccaneers were responsible for getting South Africa back among the elite by finishing runners-up to Egyptians Al-Ahly in the 2013 Champions League.
That unexpected achievement earned the country 20 points and 11th place on the merit table while Ghana dropped out.
Of the 46 CAF club title winners since competitive football was introduced 50 years ago, 24 have qualified for the 2015 draws.
Algerians Entente Setif, who won the 2014 Champions League final on away goals from Congolese V Club, are among seven winners of the competition who have qualified.
The others are Congolese TP Mazembe, Ahly, Ghanaians Asante Kotoko, Moroccans Raja Casablanca, Nigerians Enyimba and Tunisians Esperance.
Ahly this month won a record-extending 19th CAF title by lifting the Confederation Cup for the first time with a fortunate away-goal final victory over Ivorians Sewe Sport.
Kaizer Chiefs, Congolese AC Leopards, Kenyans Gor Mahia, Malians Stade Malien, Sudanese El-Merrikh and Tunisians CS Sfaxien are Champions League entrants who have won other CAF competitions.