By Nigel Matongorere
Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa says Zimbabwe has a lot to benefit after Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar was voted as the Confederation of African Football (Caf) new president in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia yesterday.
Ahmad ended former Caf president Issa Hayatou’s 28-year reign after receiving 34 votes against the Cameroonian’s 20 during yesterday’s election.
Chiyangwa, who was Ahmad’s campaign manager and had attracted the wrath of Hayatou, is convinced this is a good development or Zimbabwean football.
“I’m very elated and boosted. Now Zimbabwe can say we are part of Africa and the world,” Chiyangwa said from Addis Ababa yesterday.
“This man (Hayatou) and his cabal had ensured that we (Zimbabwe) could not be heard but he got the lesson of his life after the Caf football family bought into the vision of change.
“I and like-minded colleagues from Cosafa launched this calculated move without hesitating that we needed this man out, when others took me for a joke. History has been made.”
Chiyangwa and the rest of the Cosafa region had been at loggerheads with Hayatou since they publicly declared their support for Ahmad back in February.
Hayatou tried to silence Chiyangwa and even threatened him not to host his birthday celebrations in Harare last month where Fifa president Gianni Infantino and other various African football leaders had been invited.
The Cameroonian, who had been in charge of African football since 1988, even pushed for the Caf Executive Committee to open disciplinary proceedings against Chiyangwa on Tuesday.
However, Hayatou’s attempt to win an eighth term was brought to a spectacular end in Addis Ababa yesterday when the majority of the African football leaders took the cue from Chiyangwa.
Liberia Football Association chairperson Musa Bility, who had long opposed Hayatou’s rule, was also elated by the result yesterday.
“Africa has made a decision, we are moving forward with football and we have chosen change over the last leadership,” Bility told the BBC.
“Ahmad is crying for all of us. I have been though struggle – I have been suspended. Today I am very proud of the effort and I want to thank all of my colleagues for making this possible.
“We have proved to the world that we are ready for the change that is blowing in football across the world.
“We believed, we are human, we have seen changes in Europe and in Fifa… everywhere in football in the last 18 months there have been changes. We could not allow ourselves to be left behind. We want to be on that train of change.
“Africa has made an emphatic position that we are going for change and a candidate that has given us a plan. We have chosen a plan over no plan.
“Everything is going to change. Football is going to be governed by the association presidents, we are the real power – power will be restored to the football associations and we will make decisions, Fifa-style, Gianni-style.”
Sierra Leone Football Association president Isha Johansen, who’s the only female football head on the continent, welcomed the change which was long overdue.
“I’m happy, elated, it is great. This is the change we were talking about, it is good for African football,” Johansen said.
“I want people to understand that this was not a campaign against personalities, this was about changing the face and image of the African continent through football – and changing African football for the better.
“I always felt that Ahmad would get the ticket. Celebrations will happen but then he needs to start working, there is a lot to be done but we are all here to support him.
“I’m sure Hayatou will be on hand to give advice. He is an elder and we Africans depend on our elders for advice and support. I’m hoping we will have him on board as an adviser.
“I think there will be more transparency in Caf, I think there will be more changes to women’s football and youth football as well.” Daily News