Orlando Pirates are trying to win back the CAF Champions League this year. This is what they will have to deal with by playing in this competition.
Travelling & Accommodation
Africa is a very big continent. Teams have to travel long distances to play each other. This means having to spend lots of time in airports waiting for connecting flights. By the time the team gets onto the field they are already tired.
The other issue is the team hotel that you are given as the away team. Very few countries will offer you 5 star hotels. You will find hotels that have cockroaches and even prostitutes being used as accommodation. There will be a huge party happening very close to the hotel just to make sure the players cannot get a full night’s sleep.
The CAF Champions league usually starts around January and finishes in November, this clashes with some domestic leagues which run from August to May. This means a team will play during their domestic off-season. There is also an issue of player transfer window which happens in January & around July/August. A team could lose its star players to big European teams during a crucial stage in the Champions League. You cannot just register new players into the tournament at any time. Example is Pirates’ new players are not eligible to play until at least the group stages when Pirates will be able to register more players.
The matches are played over the weekend. Most domestic leagues schedule their matches also during weekends. This results in shifting the team’s individual fixtures to a different day. A team will end up playing a match every 3 days just to fulfill all its fixtures. A big squad is needed and a coach must know how to rotate the squad to allow his best players to rest.
Hostile Crowd & Match officials
The recent tragedy in Egypt is just one extreme example of how hostile the crowds can be in Africa. You need players that are mentally strong and who are experienced at playing in front of those crowds. The match officiating tends to be very biased towards the home crowd and also if you are a referee from that region you are in trouble. Example would be a team from Southern Africa playing Al-Ahly in Cairo and the match officials are from Tunisia.
These factors mean if you want to be crowned champions you must win ALL your home games and by good margins so that whatever happens away from home does not affect you much.