After several months of feverish campaigns and hot wire last minutes maneuvers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the African football family decided for change and have thus ushered in a new day in its leadership, pulling down the strongholds of old war horse Isah Hayatou to hand the Presidency of CAF to little feared but mistakenly underrated Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar.
The contention across Africa had been between change versus status quo, youth versus age, progress versus conservatism with Isah Hayatou held to be unshakable but little celebrated Ahmad, President of the Madagascar Football Federation, pulled something extra from the ring a handed the Cameroonian a resounding defeat that will continue to bitter the palates of the old moguls who have held African football under their loin for about three decades.
Having ruled for about 29 years, Hayatou was feared to have so much entrenched himself in the system that many felt his challenger will return as a mere joker.
Examples were taken from his walloping of his earlier challengers like Armando Machado of Angola in 2000 and Ismael Bamjee in of Botswana in 2004 but Ahmad who had had a quiet football playing and coaching career had Hayatou wrapped in a little finger in 2017 and handed him a clear 34-20 caning at the polls concluded at the CAF congress in Addis Ababa on Thursday.
It took gut to challenge Hayatou but Ahmad had the backing of the CISAFA region and a bubbling new generation of African federation presidents, including Nigeria’s Amaju Pinnick who threw his hat into the ring from the word go, to the consternation and fright of watchers and even melancholic threats and disdain of beneficiaries of the old order.
Ahmad made his resolve clear from the onset and brought his stunning got to his campaign.
“If people want change, there is no other choice. It is only me who dares to run against Hayatou,” Ahmad had said.
“My program is the reform of the administration of CAF to prevent politics interfering with the organisation of the confederation.”
And so it is that Africa has given him the mandate to do as he has proposed as they welcome Ahmad and bid Hayatou goodbye.