CityPress - - Sport - TIMOTHY MOLOBI timothy@city­press.co.za

The Coun­cil of South­ern Africa Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tions (Cosafa) not only wants the con­ti­nent’s play­ing fields to be lev­elled, it also wants to play a lead­ing role in shap­ing foot­ball in Africa.

The re­gion has even mooted the idea of get­ting two of the nine spots al­lo­cated to Africa for the 2026 World Cup. The aim is to have re­gional play-offs so that each re­gion can be rep­re­sented at the global event, with Cosafa guar­an­teed two spots.

Cosafa mem­bers are pat­ting them­selves on the back for bring­ing change to the CAF lead­er­ship af­ter spear­head­ing Ah­mad Ah­mad’s vic­tory over Issa Hay­a­tou in CAF’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tions last month.

Speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence in Jo­han­nes­burg on Fri­day, Cosafa pres­i­dent Phillip Chiyangwa said the re­gion had been marginalised for too long, and he called for a change in how CAF tour­na­ments were dis­trib­uted.

With five seats in the CAF ex­ec­u­tive, in­clud­ing Ah­mad’s, who is the pres­i­dent of the Mada­gas­car Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion, the re­gion feels its voice should be heard.

With 14 mem­bers, Cosafa is the big­gest zone in CAF and be­lieves it should have the lion’s share of all con­ti­nen­tal com­pe­ti­tions.

Chiyangwa said the re­gion has to take its right­ful po­si­tion in con­ti­nen­tal foot­ball as a ma­jor role­player, and feels that the re­gion has been treated un­fairly when it comes to the award­ing of tour­na­ments. CAF re­cently took away the host­ing rights for the Un­der-17 tour­na­ment from Mada­gas­car and gave them to Gabon af­ter Ah­mad chal­lenged Hay­a­tou for the pres­i­dency. Since 2015, the Africa Cup of Na­tions tour­na­ments have been staged in west Africa, with Equa­to­rial Guinea and Gabon host­ing the 2015 and 2017 edi­tions re­spec­tively. The next three edi­tions are also go­ing to the west, with Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Guinea poised to host the 2019, 2021 and 2023 tour­na­ments. “Tour­na­ments have been po­lit­i­cally awarded by in­di­vid­u­als, with one re­gion ben­e­fit­ing, this can­not go un­chal­lenged,” said Chiyangwa.

“The rea­son we wanted change was to un­lock the value and op­por­tu­ni­ties that have been dashed for a long time. We must start lo­cat­ing all in­ter­ests in our re­gion.

“One of the rea­sons our re­gion does not have many play­ers abroad is be­cause our play­ers were for­ever play­ing away from [the gaze of] spon­sors and op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“We need to protest some of the de­ci­sions, even if it means hav­ing a com­mis­sion of en­quiry.”

SA Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Danny Jor­daan said Cosafa wanted to ex­plore the op­tion of dis­tribut­ing Africa’s nine Fifa World Cup places on a zonal ba­sis.


OUT­SPO­KEN Cosafa pres­i­dent Phillip Chiyangwa

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