IT may very well be now or never for Patrice Motsepe.
A few days after the South African Football Associated submitted his bid to run for the Caf presidency, the Mamelodi Sundowns boss finds himself in a promising situation that could help him win the elections come March 2021.
Ahmad Ahmad, the outgoing president, was banned by Fifa from all football activities for five years on Monday after being found guilty for misconduct, which relate to a duty of loyalty, offering and accepting gifts or other benefits, abuse of position, and misappropriation of funds.
Before his greed prematurely forced him out of the office, Ahmad was earmarked as the person that would bring a breath of fresh air to the office, after he commenced his role in 2016. The Madagascan dethroned Issa Hayatou who spent three decades as the leader of African football.
But with his first term scheduled to come to an end in March 2021, Ahmad was up against Motsepe, Jacques Anouma of Ivory Coast, Ahmed Yahya of Mauritania and Augustin Senghor of Senegal, in his bid to occupy the high office once again.
Ahmad was likely a favourite to win the elections. Most nations reportedly were set to back him ahead of next year’s campaign. But those nations will have to back Anouma, Senghor, Yahya or Motsepe. The latter though is a different type of candidate in that he is not an experienced football administrator.
Anouma is a football administrator and a former member of the Fifa executive committee, while Yayha is the Mauritania Football Federation president and Senghor is a Caf executive committee member and owner of US Gorée football club.
Motsepe, though, is a mining mogul and president of champions Sundowns. That countries such as Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Botswana have publicly endorsed his campaign for the Caf presidency is because of his all-round business acumen – on and off the pitch.
Safa’s decision to appoint Motsepe was rather bizarre at first, considering that president Danny Jordaan is a Caf vice-president.
But the 69-year-old cut a modest figure, saying that it’s not about individuals but a collective effort to lead.
Should Motsepe go on to succeed Ahmad, he’ll have to abandon his role as Sundowns president due to a conflict of interest.
But having ensured that he backed the club with adequate resources since taking over the reins in 2004 he should be proud of himself.
After all, the Brazilians are forces to be reckoned with in the continent, having also added a star above their crest after winning the coveted Caf Champions League in 2016.
Locally, they’ve been the most successful team in the last eight years after winning five league titles under coach Pitso Mosimane.
The latter may have left his post in October to take over the reins at Egyptian giants Al Ahly SC, but he left the club in good hands under former assistants and now joint coach Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena, and newly appointed senior coach Steve Komphela.
From now until March, Safa should have enough time to canvas for Motsepe, especially with Ahmad out of the picture.
After all, when one door closes, the other opens. And now could be the time for Motsepe to hold the supreme office in African football.