We all love to rank things, right? Here, we list the top 10 football teams in Africa according to the Opta Power Rankings.
African football’s influence on the rest of the world – especially the top five European leagues – shouldn’t be understated. Although the competitions and leagues may not be regarded as highly as those on other continents, Africa is, and has always been, a hotbed of talent and potential.
For example, of the 2,725 players to play at least one match in Europe’s top five leagues in the 2022-23 season, 11.7% of them were considered to be from African countries in Opta’s database. South America, perhaps thought by many as a bigger producer of talent, only accounted for 9.7%. Of course, there are many nuances here and grey areas within nationality and identity; for instance, these statistics don’t take into account players who are potentially born in Africa and represent a country from a different continent, however it’s still illustrative of African football’s importance to the world’s biggest competitions.
Nevertheless, African club football arguably doesn’t receive the same attention beyond its borders as South, Central and North American, and Asian football do, so we’re here to shed some light on Africa’s 10 top clubs according to the Opta Power Rankings, which is a global team ranking system that assigns a score to nearly 13,500 domestic football teams on a scale of zero to 100; 100 being the best team in the world and zero being the lowest-ranked side.
You’ll find a full explainer on the Opta Power Rankings elsewhere on Opta Analyst, but right now we’re here to provide the lowdown on the 10 best-ranked African teams.
10. Etoile Du Sahel | Rating: 74.2 | Global Rank: 412
The 11-time Tunisian champions and one of only three clubs from the country to win the CAF Champions League, ES Sahel are one of Africa’s best-supported teams.
They were Tunisia’s first representatives at the FIFA Club World Cup in 2007 and that year became only the second African club to reach the semi-finals of that competition after Al Ahly, losing 1-0 to Boca Juniors.
9. Simba | Rating: 74.9 | Global Rank: 353
A club that shares its name with probably the most famous fictitious animal in modern pop culture; what’s not to love? We should point out Simba is Swahili for Lion, so no, there’s no official Disney or Lion King tie-in here.
But just like Mufasa’s son, Simba – formerly known as Sunderland… – have reigned supreme for much of their existence. Their 22 Tanzanian Premier League title wins is second only to rivals Young Africans (or Yanga as they’re commonly known) on 24 and they are CAF Champions League regulars, going deepest into the competition in 1972 when they finished as runners-up to Hafia FC.
8. Young Africans (Yanga) | Rating: 74.9 | Global Rank: 348
Simba’s rivals and Tanzania’s most successful club, Yanga’s prominent position in the rankings was helped by a very positive 2022-23 season that saw them win their domestic title and reach the final of the CAF Confederation Cup, Africa’s secondary continental competition.
They ultimately fell short in the two-legged final, losing on away goals to USM Alger of Algeria after a 2-2 aggregate draw. Their forward Fiston Kalala Mayele finished as the tournament’s top scorer, though he’s since moved on to Pyramids FC of Egypt.
7. Fath Union Sport (FUS Rabat) | Rating: 75.4 | Global Rank: 326
One of Morocco’s oldest clubs, FUS enjoyed the greatest success in the club’s history in 2010 when they beat Tunisia’s Club Sportif Sfaxien in the final.
A 0-0 draw in Rabat had given CS Sfaxien the upper hand, but FUS triumphed 3-2 in the second leg in Sfax, with Mohamed Zouidi scoring twice in the final 15 minutes to ensured a dramatic turnaround.
Glory on the domestic front has rarely been attainable, but they did win Botola Pro, the top tier, in 2015-16. They finished third last term.
6. AS FAR (Rabat) | Rating: 75.8 | Global Rank: 305
FUS’s local rivals and one of three clubs never to have been relegated from Morocco’s top league, AS FAR are one of the country’s most successful teams, particularly domestically.
They are the reigning Botola champions having pipped Wydad Casablanca by a point; that was their 13th league title and first since 2008. AS FAR are also one of only two Moroccan clubs to win both the CAF Confederation Cup and CAF Champions League, though they last enjoyed success in the latter way back in 1985.
5. Raja Club Athletic (Casablanca) | Rating: 76.5 | Global Rank: 260
The other Moroccan team to win each of Africa’s top two club competitions, though unlike AS FAR, Raja AC have lifted both trophies at least twice. They were Confederation Cup champions in 2018 and 2021, although Champions League success hasn’t been possible since winning their third crown in 1999.
Raja have also never been relegated from Morocco’s top division and have won it 12 times, most recently in 2020, making them one of three clubs to be champions on more than 10 occasions.
4. Pyramids | Rating: 76.7 | Global Rank: 249
While many of the clubs in this list are steeped in history, Pyramids are a rather newer creation. Initially founded as Al Assiouty Sport in 2008, they were bought 10 year later by Turki Al-Sheikh, owner of La Liga side Almería, an advisor to Saudi Arabia’s royal court and head of the Saudi General Entertainment Authority.
He’d previously been Al Ahly honorary president but resigned after internal squabbling and bought Al Assiouty before changing their name and moving them to Cairo, roughly 400 kilometres from their previous home in Beni Seuf.
A year later they were sold to an Emirati businessman, though their steady rise has continued, finishing second in the Egyptian Premier League for each of the past two seasons. They were also runners-up in the 2019-20 Confederation Cup.
3. Wydad Casablanca | Rating: 77.6 | Global Rank: 208
Morocco have two times as many representatives in this top 10 as any other nation, with Wydad the highest of the four. After all, they are the country’s most successful club.
Only four clubs in the entire continent can better their three CAF Champions League successes, the most recent of which was in 2022, and they’ve won nine more domestic championships (22) than any other team.
Wydad also reached the 2023 CAF Champions League final but were defeated 3-2 on aggregate by…
2. Al Ahly | Rating: 78.9 | Global Rank: 167
Africa’s most successful club by most measures, and probably the most well-known. Incredibly, they’ve won the Egyptian top flight 43 times – 29 more than bitter rivals Zamalek – and have enjoyed continental success unlike any other African team.
When they defeated Wydad in 2023, Al Ahly won their 11th CAF Champions League title; to put that into context, no other club has won it more than five times (Zamalek and TP Mazembe of DR Congo).
Astonishingly, nine of those Champions League wins have come since the turn of the century, and they’ve also finished runners-up four times in that period. No other African club has played in more than nine finals, and yet Al Ahly have won the whole thing as many times in a 23-year period.
They lost the CAF Super Cup in September to USM Alger, however, and were denied a place in the final of the inaugural African Football League at the start of November by the continent’s top-ranked team…
1. Mamelodi Sundowns | Rating: 81.4 | Global Rank: 100
South Africa’s dominant force. Mamelodi Sundowns have won more South African Premiership titles (13) since its 1996 inception than the next three most successful clubs combined (Orlando Pirates – 4; Kaizer Chiefs – 4; SuperSport United – 3).
Much of that is down to their remarkable record in more recent times, winning eight of the past 10 league championships. In fact, neither the Orlando Pirates nor the Kaizer Chiefs have won it since the latter did so in 2014-15.
The Sundowns’ position atop the African power rankings is undoubtedly partly down to their brilliant start to the 2023-24 campaign, winning all of their first eight league matches and conceding just three times in the process.
Despite being head and shoulders above the competition domestically, Sundowns haven’t quite been able to turn that into continental domination. They are regulars in the latter stages of the CAF Champions League, reaching the quarter-finals at least in each of the past five seasons, but they’ve not won the competition since 2016.
However, they did enjoy continental glory on Sunday. They beat Wydad 2-0 in the second leg of their African Football League final to secure a 3-2 aggregate success.