CAIRO: The African Football League, a new continental super league competition involving eight teams, kicked off to a capacity 60,000-strong crowd in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, with home side Simba drawing 2-2 with Africa’s most successful team Al Ahly of Egypt.

The two teams were playing a quarter-final first leg and will meet again in Cairo on Tuesday in the return fixture.

The eight-team competition bares little resemblance to the initial concept which FIFA president Gianni Infantino suggested to the Confederation of African Football’s member countries at their 2020 congress.

Infantino, who attended Friday’s match in the Tanzanian capital at the head of a heavyweight FIFA delegation, said then that a 24-team tournament would have $200 million in prize money and keep top talent in Africa with potential to turn the continent into a leader in the world game.

But almost four years after first raising the idea, the league began as a knockout competition, which will be completed in 17 days and with each team guaranteed $1 million for taking part with $4 million going to the winner, the same as the prize money for the African Champions League.

Africa persisted with the concept of a continental super league after similar plans in Europe were doomed when clubs pulled out in the wake of widespread opposition.

Only a single sponsor has been signed for the African Football League, with a deal with Visit Saudi, the tourism authority of Saudi Arabia, announced last week.

When asked where the money for the new competition came from, CAF president Patrice Motsepe told reporters at a press conference ahead of the match: “We pray very hard. It comes from heaven.”

CAF had previously said the eight-team format is a precursor to a bigger competition next year.

The other six clubs in this year’s event will play their first matches this weekend and the aggregate winners advance to the semi-finals.