Sundowns, SA clubs back down to earth with release of world club rankings

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Mamelodi Sundowns celebrate with the trophy after the Premiership match against Black Leopards at Dobsonville Stadium on 5 September 2020.
Mamelodi Sundowns celebrate with the trophy after the Premiership match against Black Leopards at Dobsonville Stadium on 5 September 2020.
Samuel Shivambu/Gallo Images
  • PSL champions Mamelodi Sundowns are ranked 182nd on the world club soccer rankings.
  • Orlando Pirates are ranked 347th, while Kaizer Chiefs lie a lowly 414th.
  • The top African club is Egypt's Al Ahly in 44th position.

They might be riding on the crest of a wave with a good deal of boasting and bravado as the top soccer club in South Africa, with continued success in the past three PSL championships - and a spate of other honours.

But Mamelodi Sundowns will surely be brought back to earth with the release of the world club soccer rankings placing billionaire Patrice Motsepe's club in no higher than 182nd position.

And this is not the only sombre downer for South African soccer, with heavily supported Soweto teams, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, positioned a little embarrassingly for what are usually described as the glamour teams of the country's football.

Orlando Pirates, the Buccaneers to all and sundry, are in 347th position in the world rankings and Kaizer Chiefs, the Amakhosi to millions of followers, are further way down in 414th place.

South African officials tend to proclaim the Chiefs-Pirates games as among the great derbies in world football and there is no denying the immense, almost hypnotic drawing power surrounding these encounters.

But a great derby of world football between teams rated 347th and 414th is hardly a realistic proposition.

Still, as the second top South African team in the world rankings, Pirates will take a measure of comfort that they are better placed than bitter rivals Chiefs.

Bidwest Wits, no longer in existence following the sale of their PSL franchise, are handed a final eulogy of sorts as the fourth-best South African club while placed 434th in the world rankings.

Not surprisingly, topping the list of clubs is Germany's rampant European champions, Bayern Munich, with English Premier League champions Liverpool second; Manchester City third; Atletico Madrid fourth; Paris Saint-Germain fifth; Barcelona sixth; Real Madrid seventh, but inexplicably trailing great rivals Barcelona; Borussia Dortmund eighth; Inter Milan ninth and AC Milan 10th.

The top African club in 44th place is Egypt's Al Ahly, where former long-time Sundowns coach, Pitso Mosimane, recently took over the reins.

Chelsea are in 14th place and Tottenham Hotspur 16th, with perennial Italian champions Juventus sandwiched between the two English clubs in 15th place despite their domination of Italy's Serie A over the past decade.

Among the world's renowned clubs, Manchester United appear flattered in 18th position in view of their mediocre record over the past five seasons. Holland's Ajax Amsterdam are 13th.

Boca Juniors and Napoli, the two clubs most closely connected with the great Diego Maradona, who died on Wednesday, are ranked in 22nd and 29th place respectively. Brazil's Flamengo are in 31st place and Portugal's Benfica positioned at 32nd. Scotland's Glasgow Rangers are at 39th place, with Arsenal declining 25 places to 41st after some pretty ordinary seasons.

Leicester City are positioned 30th and Glasgow Celtic only 53rd after dominating Scottish soccer for a decade.

South African clubs are seen in a more favourable light in the African continent rankings, which have been announced simultaneously with the world rankings.

Sundowns are in sixth position behind the top Al Ahly; Orlando Pirates are 16th, Chiefs 19th and the disappearing Wits at 21st.

Although some of the rankings tend to be a little erratic and even difficult to explain, South Africa's place in world soccer has indeed received something to think about.

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Wed 21 Apr 21 15:00 PM (SAST)
Mamelodi Sundowns
Jonsson Kings Park Stadium
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Black Leopards
Thohoyandou Stadium
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Kaizer Chiefs
Cape Town City
FNB Stadium (Soccer City)
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Tshakhuma FC 0
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1. Mamelodi Sundowns
2. AmaZulu
3. Golden Arrows
4. Orlando Pirates