Former president of the Namibia Football Association (NFA) John Muinjo was yesterday among the country’s various football pundits who expressed mixed feelings with the nomination of South African billionaire and Mamelodi Sundowns owner Patrice Motsepe to contest for the Confederation of African Football (Caf) presidency next March.
The South African Football Association (Safa) announced Monday that Motsepe, who according to Forbes magazine is Africa’s tenth richest man with a net worth of about US$2.4 billion, will become the third candidate vying for the top job in African football with incumbent Ahmad Ahmad from Madagascar and Jacques Anouma from the Ivory Coast also in the race.
Seating Caf president Ahmad said last month that he would seek a second four-year term after ending the 29-year reign of Cameroonian Issa Hayatou with a stunning 34 votes to 20 triumph three years ago.
Meanwhile, Anouma, who was prevented from bidding for the CAF presidency in 2013 when a Hayatou-inspired move led to a rule change that barred the Ivorian, announced his candidacy at the weekend.
Motsepe did not attend a media conference in Johannesburg where the announcement was made as he is in quarantine having contracted the coronavirus. Safa president Danny Jordaan instead made the announcement with South African sports minister Nathi Mthethwa also attending.
Speaking to New Era Sport yesterday, Muinjo – who ruled the NFA between 2005 and 2014 after succeeding Judge President Petrus Damaseb – said it is encouraging to see someone from within the southern African region contesting for the Caf presidency and that looking at it from an integrity standpoint, Motsepe can pass the test if fully supported.
Muinjo said although Motsepe has never served on the executive organs of either Safa, Caf or the Confederation of Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa) to gain the needed experience and exposure, he has however demonstrated over the years that he has strong passion for football and sport development and is someone with sound leadership qualities.
“If you look at the work he has done at Mamelodi Sundowns, it’s incredible and that demonstrates that he is someone with great passion for football. If he gets there [wins Caf presidency], I think with proper consultation and listening to others, he will make a good president. If he wins, it will be a good thing for the region (SADC) and a good thing for African football as a whole,” said Muinjo, widely hailed for helping Namibia host her first ever historic Caf Women’s Championship in 2014.
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Also weighing in on Motsepe’s nomination, renowned local football pundit and sport activist Isack Hamata expressed mixed feelings saying, on the one hand, it is great to see the South African standing for the Caf presidency and that he has no doubt in Motsepe’s leadership capabilities.
However, he expressed scepticism with the unknown intentions of those around the Sundowns boss, saying there could be some in Motsepe’s corner trying to use him to advance their own agendas and interests in African football through a Motsepe ticket.
“If he wins, it will be fantastic for SADC and Africa as a whole, he is really a man of good intentions for football and when you look at the work he has done at Sundowns, its amazing. My only skepticism is with those behind him, are they trying to use Motsepe as a gateway to Caf since some of them have tried but failed to pass the Caf presidency test in the past? Also, a few weeks ago, Cosafa endorsed Ahmad’s candidature to continue as Caf president but now all of a sudden Safa has come out to endorse Motsepe. Is it a sign of division within SADC’s football? Are there people using Motsepe to advance their own interests at Caf level if he wins? But besides that, I have no doubt with Motsepe’s quality to lead African football,” said Hamata.
Motsepe is able to contest the position since he fulfils the requirements of having been involved in football for the past five years, having led Pretoria-based Sundowns since 2004, and has received the backing of his own federation. If Motsepe wins the Caf presidency next year, he would have to step down from his role as Sundowns president.