Hayatou fights back

HARARE - Caf president Issa Hayatou will not go down without a fight as he hopes to win an unprecedented eighth term as the head of African football.

The Cameroonian, now 71, is going against Madagascar Football Association head Ahmad Ahmad at next week’s election to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Hayatou, is already on the back foot since the entire Cosafa region which is made up of at least 14 countries has vowed to vote for Ahmad.

Cosafa and Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa has made it publicly known that they are campaign for Ahmad and they have already converted other African football leaders to back their candidate.

Chiyangwa made the stunning revelations that they already have 35 votes in Ahmad’s favour at his lavish birthday celebrations in Harare two weeks ago where Fifa president Gianni Infantino was present.

In order to win the election next week, Hayatou or Ahmad only need to get 28 votes which gives a candidate a majority since Caf only has 54 members.

But Hayatou appears to be pocking holes in Chiyangwa’s plan as he battles to retain the post he has occupied since 1988.

The Caf president is currently in Zambia where he is attending the Total Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations tournament since February 26.

Hayatou has made the unprecedented step of staying in Zambia for the duration of the tournament something which he has not done in the past.

During his tenure, Hayatou normally attends the opening ceremony of such tournaments before returning back to the Caf headquarters in Cairo, Egypt. He would only later return for the final only.

However, with Chiyangwa doing Ahmad’s bidding, Hayatou is feeling the heat and last week met Football Association of Zambia (Faz) president Andrew Kamanga and his predecessor Kalusha Bwalya.

Kamanga and Bwalya have been at loggerheads since the Faz elections in 2015 which ushered in the former into power.

Hayatou played the peace maker in uniting the two Zambians and is now confident he might have won Kamanga’s vote ahead of the Caf elections.

“We met them on Thursday, and we succeeded in making them understand that the football of their country (Zambia), and beyond that of Africa, needs that they work together,” Hayatout told the Caf website.

“When we met them, they were able to explain and they understood that there were only misunderstandings. It is a very good gesture and it is a good omen for the football of their country that these two people can shake hands.”

Hayatou added: “The new president (Kamanga) has been elected by the Zambian football family, so Kalusha should be able to confer with him on all aspects of football management in the country.

“I also told the new president that everyone has an interest but Zambian football must be first, and that he takes into account the opinion of Kalusha, who is no stranger in football.

“Before assuming presidency of the Faz, he wore for several times the jersey of his country. He was also Technical Director and national team coach before his election to the head of the governing body of Zambian football.

“Caf is very pleased to have managed to dispel the clouds between these two personalities and it would be very beneficial for football in general.”

While Chiyangwa and the rest of Ahmad’s camp are confident they will be successful in Addis Ababa next week, Hayatou is slowly clawing his way back in the race.

The two weeks the Caf president has spent in Zambia might prove to be the tipping point during this campaign come March 16.

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