Young guns usher in new dawn for African foot­ball

The tsunami that last week blew Issa Hay­a­tou out of the top job he had oc­cu­pied for al­most 30 years has been steadily build­ing up – right un­der his nose – in the south­ern African re­gion, writes

CityPress - - Sport -

Those who at­tended last week’s 39th CAF Or­di­nary Gen­eral As­sem­bly in Ad­dis Ababa, Ethiopia, say the be­mused look on Issa Hay­a­tou’s face was price­less when the re­sults showed that he had lost to Ah­mad Ah­mad. The votes were 34 to 20 in Ah­mad’s favour.

This spelt the end of more than two decades of rule by the iron-fisted Cameroo­nian – he be­came the head of African foot­ball in 1988.

Hay­a­tou should have long ago seen the writ­ing on the wall, but, as one thought leader once opined, “most of us can read the writ­ing on the wall, we just as­sume it’s ad­dressed to some­one else”.

What cul­mi­nated in Ah­mad be­ing el­e­vated to the oner­ous po­si­tion of CAF pres­i­dent started with a sys­tem­atic re­moval of the old or­der in the Coun­cil of South­ern Africa Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tions (Cosafa).

By the time last week’s poll hap­pened, 11 of the 14 Cosafa foot­ball as­so­ci­a­tions were un­der a new lead­er­ship of pres­i­dents in their early or mid-50s (spring chick­ens in foot­ball ad­min­is­tra­tion terms, es­pe­cially on the con­ti­nent).

Lead­ing the pack is the pow­er­ful and wealthy Dr Philip Chiyangwa (59), who is said to be worth about $288 mil­lion (R3.6 bil­lion) – mak­ing him the sixth-rich­est man in Zim­babwe. He took over the reins at the Zim­babwe Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion in De­cem­ber 2015 be­fore as­cend­ing to the Cosafa seat un­op­posed last De­cem­ber.

With his elec­tion, which ended the 10-year reign of Sey­chel­lois Suketu Pa­tel, a staunch Hay­a­tou sup­porter and now de­posed CAF vice-pres­i­dent, came that of Namib­ian Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Frans Mbidi as vice-pres­i­dent.

The lat­ter nar­rowly missed out on a seat in the CAF ex­ec­u­tive in last week’s elec­tions.

PHOTO: SA­MUEL SHIVAMBU / BACKPAGEPIX

HERO Ah­mad Ah­mad

PHOTO: ROGER SEDRES / IM­AGE SA

FRESH BLOOD Mbidi Frans

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