COMMENT: Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Sundowns' return to Caf will benefit South Africa

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With all of the PSL's traditional Big Three representing SA in Caf competitions, Goal looks at why it is significant for the country's football

Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns will begin their continental journey in midweek as the Caf Champions League and Caf Confederation Cup tournaments step onto our doorstep.

Aside from Sundowns, both the Soweto giants have been notable absentees from continental football for some time, and after a period of uncertainty and frustration as they failed to stamp their authority locally, an air of new optimism surrounds the Big Three.  

For the past few years, South Africa have only had Sundowns, who have been flying the flag high in Africa's premier club competition, while SuperSport United have been the only other side to really show any real desire in recent times as they reached the final of the 2017 Caf Confederation Cup.

Mamelodi Sundowns and Wydad Casablanca, Caf Champions League, 5 April 2018

Nonetheless, as Egypt have constantly proven with the success of Al Ahly and Zamalek on the continent, a nation can only truly boast to be a powerhouse if its clubs consistently do well against the best on the continent.

SA cannot claim to be up there with the likes of Egypt if they cannot continuously compete for continental titles.

Meanwhile, having the nation’s top clubs competing on the continent comes with its own benefits.

Granted that competing on the continent can be costly considering the financial ramifications, but the prestige as well as the benefit it can bring to a country’s national team is a price worth paying.

Caf Champions League PS

Many of Sundowns, Pirates and Chiefs’ locally born players usually form the core of the Bafana Bafana squad, and having them, especially the younger ones exposed to top quality football on the continent, will help improve the national team.

Just look at the likes of Teboho Mokoena, who was part of SuperSport’s rise to the Confederation Cup final two seasons ago.

However, Mokoena is not the tournament’s only success story. Percy Tau and Motjeka Madisha, who now find themselves as full internationals, are only but some of the players who have benefited from playing continental football.  

There is an argument that speaks about the comforts of South African football, and far too often, players from the country’s top teams find themselves in that same comfort zone.

But travelling to across all parts of Africa where a hostile reception awaits away teams, this certainly adds to a player’s development and forces them to 'man-up'. 

Thabo Matlaba, Orlando Pirates vs Al-Ahly, Caf Champions League, 02.11.2013

Lastly, the reality is in today’s climate. It is not necessarily possible that all of the PSL’s top players can earn a move abroad.

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Rather playing on the continent offers these players a chance to compete on a very high level that can see them make a name for themselves on the continent and become African stars in their own right. 

Sundowns, Pirates and Chiefs were the top three teams in the PSL last season, and for the first time in many years, all three will be travelling the continent at the same time to chase the ultimate prize.

It is now up to the three clubs to prove that they are hungry for continental success. 

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