In a typical case of a stone that the builder rejected becoming a cornerstone, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu yesterday triumphed in the Fifa Council elections.
He defied a snub by the Council of Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa) which opted for his South African counterpart Danny Jordaan as its candidate.
During elections held yesterday at the Extraordinary Confederation of African Football (CAF) congress in Sharm-El-Sheikh‚ Egypt, Nyamilandu defied the odds to come out on top in the initial poll with 23 votes against Jordaan’s 16 while Tanzania Football Federation president Leodegar Tenga got 14.
The vote then went into second round as no majority of 50 percent plus one was attained and Nyamilandu amassed 35 votes against Jordan’s 18.
He becomes one of the African representatives on the world body’s 37-member strategic panel headed by Fifa president Gianni Infantino who also attended the congress.
In an interview from Egypt yesterday, Nyamilandu said: “God is great. I feel favoured and honoured with the new position in the Fifa Council.
“It’s a dream come true and I am delighted as this reflects positively on my country. My hard work in football has finally paid off and it has caught the attention of African football leaders. I am a proud Malawian and a proud African ready to serve the interests of Africa to the best of my ability.”
The FAM boss also described his triumph as “a huge sign of approval and respect from colleagues that I work with”.
He said: “I [also] owe it to football officials in Malawi that have shown tremendous trust in my leadership and to the fans for their support to Malawi football that I serve.”
Asked how this reflects on Cosafa bloc which voted for Jordaan as its representative during elections held last month, Nyamilandu said: “It’s good that Cosafa has still won the seat through me.
“We did not lose it, but we secured the seat and that was the most important thing. Otherwise, we could have lost it had we settled for a wrong candidate.”
After losing to Jordaan at regional polls, Nyamilandu insisted that he would still contest for the Fifa seat, saying apart from Cosafa he had support from CAF zones.
“I have support from Cosafa and beyond and that support is sufficient to see me through. It’s better for the best candidate to win and the spirit of fair competition must prevail. The best candidate will amass votes from other zones and not only Cosafa,” he said three weeks ago.
Football analyst Felix Ngamanya Sapao described Nyamilandu’s election as good for Malawi because of the influence that the council has.
“It is not easy to make it into the Fifa Council, it shows that he is a good administrator and the reforms he has undertaken at FAM are a testimony to this,” he said.
However, Sapao said football politics also contributed to Nyamilandu’s victory as he was aided by CAF president Ahmad Ahmad.
On his part, George Kaudza Masina said Nyamilandu’s victory proves that he enjoys the support of fellow African football leaders “and his triumph is good for Malawi”. n