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CAF Exco Meeting: Three key takeouts

CAF President Ahmad
CAF President Ahmad

Nearly four months after the seismic CAF elections in Ethiopia, Ahmad Ahmad's new administration, which had been idling on the runway, is finally taking off.

On Monday, crucial appointments were made into the executive committee in addition to the key leadership positions at committee level.

Most of these positions were already decided on the night of the election victory, following a marathon meeting at the Hilton Hotel in Addis Ababa, and these appointments were formalised in Manana, Bahrain on the eve of the 67th FIFA Congress.

What are the key consequences of Ahmad's new appointments, and what did Monday's congress teach us about the broader visions of CAF's new regime?

NEW POWER-BROKERS UNVEILED

There is little secret as to who the movers and drivers of Ahmad's campaign were. Amaju Pinnick of Nigeria and Philip Chiyangwa of Zimbabwe were the public and aggressive faces respectively.

South Africa's Danny Jordaan worked hand in glove with Chiyangwa to deliver a unanimous COSAFA vote which galvanised many of the rest on the continent, while Ghana's Kwesi Nyantakyi was a silent force, whipping up support especially on the west African axis, along with Sierra Leone's Isha Johansen, a close ally of Pinnick.

Congo's Constant Omari, a long-time force on the Issa Hayatou camp, flipped places to join the Ahmad train, and brought significant votes along with him. All have been rewarded with plum positions.

Nyantakyi is now first vice-president of CAF and Omari is second vice-president. Pinnick, a member of FIFA's powerful Organising Committee, angled for and got the chairmanship of the Nations Cup Organising Committee in addition to heading the Media Committee.

Chiyangwa, who is not a member of the CAF Exco, is vice-chairman.

Jordaan headed the 2010 World Cup Organising Committee but saw himself frozen out by the previous administration. He now heads up the Marketing and TV Committee, as well as being vice-chairman of the Club Licensing Committee.

Johansen was appointed chairperson of the Women's Football Committee and vice-chair of the FairPlay and CAF Social Responsibilities Committee.

These appointments are a clear indication of where the power now lies in African football administration.

Issa Hayatou and Amaju Pinnick
Issa Hayatou and Amaju Pinnick

KALUSHA APPOINTMENT DEMONSTRATES RAPPROCHEMENT

One of the surprise appointments on Monday was that of former Zambia FA president Kalusha Bwalya. The African football legend was one of the not-so-few who remained loyal to Hayatou till the end, but has now been rewarded with an appointment as chairman of the Technical and Development Committee.

As an olive branch, this could represent a sign that Ahmad's regime will not be vindictive, but will leave the doors open to former foes to become allies, and could prove to be one of the most powerful actions taken by the new president and his administration.

ZUL SHOWS OUTSIDERS CAN PUNCH WITH THE INSIDERS

If Kalusha's appointment proved that reconciliation was possible, another event showed that the handshake only goes so far. At the CAF Congress, Cameroon's Zelkifli Ngoufonja, a former FIFA Development Officer who was a loyal Hayatou supporter, decided to run for a position on the FIFA Council.

His chances, depending mostly on a wing and prayer, were no match for Egypt's Hany Abo, who swept to victory on a 50-4 voting margin.

Initially different, seemingly underhand tactics were employed to try to keep his candidacy out of the ballot but he persisted, and while he had no realistic hopes of winning against Abo, who had the considerable might of the Egypt government behind him, to score even those four votes were a significant victory for the man known as Prince Zul.

What he has done is set a marker that even outsiders in Africa can now attempt shots at the highest seats in football.

It is as much a win for Zul as it is for Ahmad and his new, open and inclusive administration.

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