Johanneburg – SA Football Association (Safa) president Kirsten Nematandani vowed on Wednesday to continue the fight to retain his position at the helm of South African soccer.
Nematandani made the decision despite the Football Transformation Forum's (FTF) decision to switch support in the September 28 elections for a president to former World Cup CEO Danny Jordaan.
It was largely due to the backing the FTF's members that enabled underdog candidate Nematandani to be elected president in 2009
after front-running contenders Jordaan and Irvin Khoza were forced to back out of the race.
Now the “ancient war” between the groups loyal to PSL and Orlando Pirates boss Khoza, and Jordaan, is rearing its head again. Both are being touted to take over the presidency in next month's elections.
Nematandani says this confrontation between South African soccer's two power bases has motivated him to remain in the presidential race.
“With either Khoza or Jordaan at the helm Safa will remain uncompromisingly divided, much to the cost of much-needed reform and progress in South African soccer a whole,” Nematandani said.
“This is not meant to the detriment of either Khoza or Jordaan. The contributions they have made to South African soccer are well-documented. But some of the zealots who support them will always view the opposing group as enemies.”
Nematandani said despite the FTF's decision to back Jordaan for the presidency, he is assured of nomination from other quarters.
“As for the FTF, I would have thought they might have entrusted me with ongoing support to continue with the projects that have been launched during the past four years.
“But it is a fact that some of the members are not happy with my neutrality stance and desire to work with all those interested in bettering the interests of South African soccer.”
But at this stage the general view in soccer circles is that the indefatigable Khoza is comfortably in the lead in the presidential race.
Jordaan supporters, meanwhile, are attempting to force Khoza out of the race on the grounds that the Safa constitution prohibits a club owner from assuming the presidency.
The Khoza group is fighting this claim, to the point of seeking a change to the constitution if necessary. They have earmarked Kaizer Chiefs supremo Kaizer Motaung as a shadow chairman of the PSL to take over from Khoza if he muscles his way into the Safa presidency.
Motaung wields power through his magnetic Chiefs' base of supporters and his undoubted support and close relationship with Khoza is a major telling factor in the outcome.
Neither Khoza nor Jordaan have formally accepted their nomination for the Safa presidency. The closing date for nominations is a week away.
Asked if he would be prepared to accept the support of Khoza's followers if Khoza was forced out of the presidential race, Nematandani said: “Yes, as long as I am not required to change my principles.” – Sapa