MASERU – It is done and dusted. Patrice Motsepe is the next Confederation of African Football (CAF) president.
Motsepe’s rivals for the presidency post, Jacques Anouma, Augustin Senghor and Ahmed Yahya have agreed to withdraw as contenders and support the South African’s candidacy.
The duo’s withdrawal was confirmed last Saturday at the Palais des Congres in Nouakchott, Mauritania, where the African Under-20 Championship final was held the same day.
The agreement to support Motsepe’s candidacy had also been secured in Rabat, Morocco, where the CAF presidential election takes place today.
Senegal’s Senghor and Mauritania’s Yahya are said to have agreed to step aside from the race after claims the two had accepted vice-presidency positions, with Anouma, the Honorary President of the Ivorian Football Federation reportedly to be named an adviser to Motsepe.
According to international media reports, the agreement was secured following the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) President Gianni Infantino conducting an African tour, where he met with the four candidates. Infantino, however, has denied influencing the election, but continued to stress the importance of African unity.
The FIFA President was quoted saying: “I am delighted that FIFA has been able to contribute, even just a little, to this crucial moment for football on this great continent.”
Infantino further said: “The agreement reached by the candidates is a strong signal for Africa, and also for the world.”
Former Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) Public Relations Officer and the president of the now defunct Football Association of Lesotho (FA), Mohau Thakaso-Maama, supports Motsepe’s candidacy.
Thakaso-Maama, known as ‘White-Horse’ within the football fraternity in the country, said African football needed people like Motsepe to be truly professional.
“I am very much pleased because, first of all, it is people like Motsepe who can make it possible for African countries to make it to the World Cup finals,” said Thakaso-Maama. “It is people like Motsepe who can make football in Africa to be truly professional.”
Thakaso-Maama said Motsepe is one of the people who hugely contribute to the development of football. “We have two types of people. You have people who benefit from football, and the secondly the type that contribute immensely to the game, just like Motsepe and others.”
Thakaso-Maama further indicated that the problem with people who benefit from football is that are stick to their given positions for decades “but without any development.”
“Here in Africa people are sticking to positions for years and decades and no development, but they continue to benefit from the game. They are not contributing to the development of football but are earning salaries at the end of the day,” he continued.
Thakaso-Maama further said: “But this is while you can see that they cannot survive without the positions they hold or without the associations they are in…but organisations collapse under such people.”
Therefore, Thakaso-Maama said he’s glad that Motsepe would lead CAF as a new President.
“So I am very glad that Motsepe is where he is, and secondly even if these other gentlemen who were contesting against Motsepe, he would still win.
“It is not because of FIFA’s influence or of any other body, Motsepe’s record has proved that he is able and he is willing and has time for the game.”
Thakaso-Maama reiterated: “And I don’t really think those guys who were competing against him would make it; he would still win.”
According to Thakaso-Maama, it is good that Motsepe is recognized by FIFA, CAF and also by COSAFA.
“But it’s good that FIFA recognizes him, CAF recognizes him and of course COSAFA.”
He further said: “Firstly, the South African Football Association (SAFA) campaigned and assisted him, and don’t really get such support easily.” Thakaso-Maama also said Motsepe is not only the best candidate for the CAF presidency, but also for FIFA, he said “Motsepe would be the president of FIFA one day; I promise you. He is a FIFA candidate already. Take this record for instance, his club Sundowns is a world class team and very professional.”
Thakaso-Maama said Motsepe only needed the continent’ support for him to deliver.
“He only needs support from his continent as the CAF president and as such African will have a team or teams that will go to the top four of the FIFA finals. “At least two that would easily cruise to the final, because what Motsepe is going to do for Africa is exactly what he has done for South Africa. Do for the clubs in the continent what he has done for his club Mamelodi Sundowns.”
Thakaso-Maama, a former football player himself, said for a very long time Africa just needed a few people like Motsepe who can turn the fortunes of the continent as far as football is concerned in the world.
Former premier league player and now a coach in the B-Division, Kenny Mohoanyane, says there is no secret why FIFA president, Infantino, was interested in Motsepe becoming CAF president.
“I have been fortunate to be one of the people who happened to attend Infantino’s meetings while he was in Lesotho recently, I have learned that he has a great vision about football in general, especially in Africa,” said Mohoanyane. “We will remember that when he was here (Lesotho) he said FIFA was planning to build international standard stadiums for less fortunate countries like Lesotho.”
Mohoanyane further said: “So I have realized his interest for the African football, where he even said if not Africa is the richest continent in the world with minerals, and that minerals make the continent or a country to be rich.”
Mohoanyane said Infantino, therefore, said countries who used to perform well in the World Cup were those who got support from their governments with their welfare while Africa on the other hand has its own welfare but not utilizing it.
“So he said he wanted to help us in that regard; and I have realized looking at the history of Motsepe and Sundowns that even though one is not sure what Motsepe did for football before, but since he has arrived at Sundowns he has managed to transform it into the best team it is today.
“Sundowns have won many league titles and even the way he (Motsepe) manages the team like is far different compared to other teams, such like Chiefs and others who we knew were very professionals.”
Mohoanyane, therefore, said there is no denying the fact that Motsepe is strategical. “His successes with Sundowns did not happen overnight. There were first his goals when he first took over the Sundowns team. So the fact that he can strategise is the secret why he is a successful businessman.”
Mohoanyane, as a result, said he believed Motsepe has what it takes to lead CAF as a new President. “I think he can improve our football in the continent as CAF president and not as Sundowns boss. Let us be fair here, our African football has been in the mud and dusty for so many years, and was dominated by the Western African people.
So I think FIFA knows the history of African football. You can expect that Infantino does not know that.” Mohoanyane thought it was against that background that Senghor, Anouma and Yahya withdrew from the race for the CAF Presidential post, to give Motsepe chance to turn the African football’s fortune.
Motsepe will be the first CAF president from the Southern African region and the first English-speaking continental football boss.