What a difference two years can make

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IT WOULD have been a glamorous sideshow of the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations tournament — a victory party for those that oversaw the sensational ouster of Issa Hayatou as African football boss two years ago.

By Enock Muchinjo

Malagasy Ahmad Ahmad, who famously defeated Hayatou in March 2017, will be presiding over his first Nations Cup finals as president of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) when the competition kicks off in Egypt next week.

But the hype that accompanied Ahmad into office two years ago has since died down.

A series of controversial events have marred the presidency of Ahmad — whose victory was celebrated far and wide across Africa — having promised to modernise the continent’s football governing body, and make it more transparent.
Barely into the middle of his four-year term, instead of being hailed for delivering the transparency he pledged, Ahmad goes into his first Afcon tournament with allegations of corruption hanging over him after he was arrested by French police last week and later released without charges.

The arrest was in connection with misuse of funds of approximately US$830 000 after Ahmad ordered equipment via a French intermediary company called Tactical Steel.

Whatever the outcome of any future investigations by the French authorities, allegations of this nature are damaging for a man who assumed office with a promise to stamp out the very same scourge that he now stands accused of.

It is not just Ahmad who did not predict — even in his worst nightmare — that things would turn out this way just two years after that glitzy banquet in Harare when the politician from Madagascar was paraded before the world as the man set to end Hayatou’s 29-year grip on African football.

Ahmad’s backers — who attended the famous Harare gathering and at that time looking like flexing their muscles in world football — have since fallen by the wayside in different circumstances.

Phillip Chiyangwa, organiser of the Harare event and seen as the architect of the successful campaign to depose the unpopular Cameroonian, has since lost position as president of the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa).
Chiyangwa is still involved in football albeit in a lesser influencial role, but the world has crumbled around Ghana’s Kwesi Nyantakyi, another key ally of Ahmad.

The disgraced former Ghana Football Association (GFA) president was banned by Fifa for life last October for breaking bribery and corruption rules after he was pictured taking US$65 000 from an undercover reporter. Then of course there is South African football chief Danny Jordaan, another key strategist of the irresistible force that swept Ahmad into office two years ago.

Jordaan was last year defeated by little-known Malawian Walter Nyamilandu in an election for a position on the all-powerful politburo of world football, the Fifa Council.

While Issa Hayatou will be watching the Africa Cup of Nations from home for the first time in three decades, it will not be party time either for those that masterminded his demise.

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