Africa has spoken. Issa Hayatou’s 29-year reign came to a dramatic end yesterday when a rank-outsider Ahmad Ahmad from Madagascar, an island nation off the southeast coast of Africa, sucker-punched the patriarch of African football from Cameroon, 34-20 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Intimidated by Hayatou’s henchmen for his stance to challenge the dinosaur of African football, Ahmad emerged victorious thanks to the Confederation of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) bloc which massively catapulted him to power.
With the victory come prospects of the Cosafa region benefiting from the continental football governing body.
In an interview from Addis Ababa, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu was over the moon.
“It’s a new era. Africa has spoken. It’s time for member associations to be empowered and enjoy equal share of the wealth generated through football on the continent. We have been marginalised for a long time and now we have a voice,” said Nyamilandu in clear reference to West and North’s dominance during Hayatou’s almost three-decade era.
Nyamilandu, who on Wednesday was coy on which candidate he would throw his weight behind, revealed that he and Ahmad are close.
“First and foremost, he is a personal friend and I have known him for years. He is level headed, humble, honest, experienced and a great leader,” he said.
Cosafa deputy chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda said Ahmad’s victory was a milestone to bringing reforms in African football administration.
“It is great news for Africa in general and Cosafa in particular. Time for change has come. African countries are waiting to see how the new leadership will take the game to another level. But this is the day of celebrations in Africa,” he said.
FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda said the election of Ahmad was a football revolution on the continent.
“It’s a change that comes with lots of good expectations. Cosafa has been a champion for need for inclusive leadership at CAF. It’s time African football benefited from CAF resources in football development and Ahmad, has spelt out that clearly.
And in his speech as reported by BBC, Ahmad said “no one will be isolated.”
On his feat toppling one of the most powerful empires, the 57-year-old said: “When you try to do something, you mean that you can do it. If I can’t do it, I never stand.”
He becomes the seventh CAF president. n