AS the Confederation of African Football (CAF) goes to polls in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia today, there is still uncertainty about which of the presidential candidates will get Tanzania’s vote.
The President of the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF), Jamal Malinzi, will make a decision as to who between Issa Hayatou and Ahmad Ahmad will rule African football for the next four years.
Incumbent CAF president, Hayatou will face a rare challenge as he stands for an eighth term at the helm of the African game when the continental soccer body holds their Congress in the Ethiopian capital.
Ahmad, a Madagascan government minister who uses a single name, will contest today’s vote and is only the third challenger Hayatou has faced since he became CAF president in 1988. Going to the election, Malinzi remained tightlipped on where his vote will go as he headed to Addis Ababa.
However, Malinzi insisted that TFF is focused on campaigning for the Former TFF president Leodegar Tenga who will battle it out for the position for FIFA Council Member from the CAF region and to support Zanzibar’s bid to become a full member of the confederation.
Recently, however, CECAFA Secretary General, Nicholas Musonye, said the region was throwing its weight behind a man with a proven track record over his main challenger, Ahmad, who has no credentials to serve the continental governing body.
Musonye claimed some CECAFA members were being placed under duress to drop their support for Hayatou, who is facing his sternest test to his long rule having ascended to the seat in 1988.
“We all agreed we want Hayatou. He is a man whom we have seen what he can do and where he has taken us. But some of our members are being placed under pressure to think otherwise,” Musonye charged.
The world soccer governing body FIFA President, Gianni Infantino stated his support for Ahmad. Hayatou and his opponent have waged a lively election campaign over the last two months, featuring an unusually high number of public pronouncements for a process that is traditionally played out behind closed doors.
The 70-year-old Hayatou, who also serves as Fifa’s senior vicepresident and is from Cameroon, promises continuity while Ahmad says it is time for change. “Basically, what we all want is a change in leadership, in the system, and in how we manage the Confederation,” he said in an interview.
“We live in a time of transformation. The majority of federation presidents have changed. There are many more young people than before.” The Madagascar Football Federation president said he was confident of support, even though only Cosafa and Nigeria have so far gone public.
“Others won’t say it publicly. I know that and I respect their position.” The CAF elections will take place March 16 during 39th Ordinary General Assembly, which will also mark 60th Anniversary celebrations of African football governing body.
At the same time, Danny Jordaan, the South Africa Football Association president and his counterpart Chabur Gok Alei of South Sudan Football Association have pulled out of the race for the FIFA Council Member from the CAF region.
The duo were challenging for three available slots and their withdrawal means Almamy Kabele Camara (Guinea), Hani Abo Rida (Egypt) and Lydia Nsekera (Burundi) will sail through unopposed.
Eight other candidates, representing different interest groups, were cleared by the FIFA’s Governance Committee to have passed integrity test to contest, according to the CAF.
Former Football Association of Zambia President and retired legend Kalusha Bwalya, who was going for FIFA Council Member for the Anglophone grouping, had earlier pulled out from the race.
Tanzania’s Leodegar Tenga and Kwesi Nyantakyi (Ghana) will now battle it out for the position. Kalusha gave way to concentrate on defending his CAF Executive Committee Member seat, following a meeting with Infantino who toured Lusaka last week.