Monday, December 6, 2021

COSAFA rallies around Motsepe

Long before everyone, when Dr Patrice Motsepe’s candidature for Confederation of African Football (CAF) presidency was at its infancy, Botswana Football Association (BFA) threw its weight behind him.

Under Maclean Letshwiti, the BFA’s endorsement of Motsepe’s candidature had gone against the grain and taken a road less travelled.

In the context of African football and CAF in particular, supporting a new presidential candidate against an incumbent can be a very dangerous route.

By endorsing Motsepe, Letshwiti put his own ambitions to be a CAF Executive Committee and COSAFA representative as well as the country’s football standing in Africa on the line. 

As Motsepe was officially endorsed as the Confederation of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA)’s CAF presidential candidate in front of the visiting FIFA president Gianni Infantino, Letshwiti would have received this with a mixture of both relief and apprehension.

A relief that finally, Motsepe, a man he supported from day one, was finally endorsed and the omens were good. 

For Letshwiti, as with COSAFA president Dr Phillip Chiyangwa and his COSAFA colleagues, the visit of Infantino on the day Motsepe was officially endorsed would have felt like a good omen.

As Dr Chiyangwa recounted, the last time Infantino visited the region was back in 2017 when the COSAFA was planning the downfall of the then CAF strongman Issah Hayatou.

In the aftermath of that visit, COSAFA’s then preferred presidential candidate, a relatively unknown Malagasy football administrator Ahmad Ahmad shocked the world as he triumphed over Hayatou.

Now as COSAFA fully rallies around Motsepe, who Chiyangwa says was requested by COSAFA to stand, Letshwiti would be rightfully feeling he is the right man to be elected to be with Motsepe in the CAF executive committee.

The BFA president, who describes himself as a proponent of new ideas, made it known to the COSAFA leadership at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) that Motsepe would need people who think alike to be around him.

As it is, Letshwiti’s voice has been heeded by the COSAFA leadership who, when quoting him, emphasised that Motsepe alone cannot enforce the change they need for African football.

“To all our other candidates, who are similarly campaigning to get a seat on either CAF or FIFA, we are going to work with them because we want to build a team as was expressed by the president of Botswana Football Association because one person cannot make a difference,” SAFA president Danny Jordan said, echoing Letshwiti.

While his words were heeded by the COSAFA leadership, Letshwiti himself will probably be feeling a little apprehension as to whether his own candidature would catch fire.

For him to be by Motsepe’s side, he will have to fight it off with at least three more candidates from the COSAFA region to be among the two elected.

His opponents include Arthur De Almeida E. Silva of Angola, Feizal Ismael Sidat of Mozambique and Elvis Raja Chetty from Seychelles.

However, with COSAFA not openly endorsing any of the four candidates, the BFA president will know he has a fight in his hands.

Whether or not Letshwiti’s campaign will catch fire and land him in the CAF executive committee, only time will tell.

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