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After the vultures, CAF gets ready for a different leader

On a continent where football leaders have transformed themselves into vultures, who are only there for the money, Patrice Motsepe appears to be cut from a different cloth.

He represents a refreshing change, from the dark forces who have led the game for years, and have been accused of looting its financial resources.

The last CAF president, Ahmad Ahmad, is now serving a two-year ban from the game after some questionable financial dealings.

Motsepe, the South African billionaire businessman who will replace him on Friday, is a different man.

“There is no one in Africa who has lost more money in football than I have,’’ Motsepe said.

“It’s a stupid love. “African football must become the best in the world. It won’t happen overnight, but that is the test of what we are going to do, over the next few years.

“For me, the test is what the results are going to be. You have got to win in the 90 minutes.’’

A highly successful businessman, one can be sure he’s in the game for the right reasons, and certainly not to try and line his pockets.

If you’re looking for proof of Motsepe’s unconditional financial backing in football, one does not need to look at the money he’s pumped, into making Mamelodi Sundowns one of the best teams on the continent.

Rather, look further down the football ladder, at South Africa’s third tier, the ABC Motsepe football league.

For thousands of players in this country, the ABC league — which is semi-professional, most of the clubs pay salaries – provides a potential stepping stone to the full professional ranks — the First Division and the Premiership.

Just the scale of the ABC league is incredible — it comprises of nine provincial leagues, with a total of 144 clubs, and reaches the length and breadth of the country, enabling those in more far-flung forgotten areas the chance to climb up on the football ladder.

Motsepe has been backing this league — named in honour of his late father Augustine Butana Chaane Motsepe — with no hope of a return on investment, since 2014, after taking over from communication giants Vodacom.

Then, there are also the Kay Motsepe schools tournaments — which covers both football and netball, into which the Masandawana boss has ploughed millions over a number of years.

All indications are that Motsepe was not only the best candidate for the CAF presidency, but also that he is genuinely the perfect man to take African football to new heights.

For starters, there can be little doubt of African football’s huge potential.

One only has to look around the top leagues in Europe, where African-born players, or in some cases, players born in Europe to African parents, are playing for the biggest clubs.

In numerous instances, they are among the most important members of their teams.

Unfortunately, though, African teams continue to under-perform at international tournaments, like the World Cup.

Arguably, and this is point which requires a discussion of it’s own, that is down to issues such as poor resources invested into youth development, inadequate facilities, not enough properly qualified coaches, particularly at junior levels, and generally, just not enough funding in the right places.

Motsepe, though, is just the kind of visionary, and a man who believes in, and is passionate about Africa’s vast potential, to rectify some of these challenges.

The Sundowns boss is not an individual who craves the limelight, or has an ego that needs to be stroked.

His success on the field, and in the business arena, speaks for itself.

He’s the kind of leader who’s happy to quietly go about his business in the background, while genuinely empowering, those who work for him.

The opportunity he gave to former Sundowns coach, Pitso Mosimane, illustrates this well. Choosing rather to place his faith in a local coach, than be tempted by Europeans or South Americans, Mosimane’s star was not shining especially brightly when he arrived at the club in 2012, following a largely unsuccessful spell as national team coach.

And, the coach struggled in the opening months — there was a period when the fans were baying for his blood.

But Motsepe stuck by Mosimane, backing him in the transfer market, and not interfering in everyday football matters.

And, the rest now is history as Mosimane has become one of Africa’s most respected coaches, so much so that his name is now known across the football world.

It’s just the kind of African success story one would imagine Motsepe relishes.

While he finalises the formalities for his CAF job on Friday, his son Tlhopie, is getting ready to take over as the new Sundowns president.

Rejoice Simelane, who is a director at Chloorkop and on the PSL’s Executive Committee, is set to serve as the club’s vice president.

“If I get elected CAF president, I will step aside and my first-born (Tlhopie) will replace me as the club president,” Motsepe said when he delivered his manifesto.

“My heart will always be with Sundowns. The CAF rules say that a president cannot be associated with the club.

‘’I will become an ordinary Sundowns fan. My son, I am throwing you into the deep end.”

Although Tlhopie remains media-shy, he has always been a regular figure, with his other two brothers Kgosi and Kabelo, showing support during Sundowns home games in Tshwane. — Goal.com/KickOff.com.