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Matters arising from the CAF elections

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(By Richard Avornyotse, GNA Sports Desk)

Accra, Feb 17, GNA - For two consecutive times, Ghana has failed in her bid to win a seat on the Executive Committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to enable her to participate actively in taking decisions that affect the African game.

At the first instance, it was Mr. Ben Koufie, the outgoing chairman of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) who bowed out at the 11th hour, citing "the power of the dollar" as his undoing.

That was before the septuagenarian had refused the request bid of his predecessor, Alhaji Nurudeen Jawula and instead forwarded his own name with great enthusiasm and a feeling of triumph over his local rival.

The Ghanaian was also made to believe that the sitting chairman who had just returned to the country after a technical escapade in Southern Africa had the clout to zoom beyond Nigeria's Dr Amos Adamu into the decision making body of CAF at the Bamako elections in 2002. The rest remains for history and posterity to analyse.

Unfortunately, when the opportunity arrived again for mother Ghana to challenge Nigeria for the same seat in Tunisia in 2004, there was a feeling of indifference from our super heavyweights in football administration, both former and present.

One other thing that was conspicuously missing from the build up to the election was a seeming apathy from the ministry of Youth, Education and Sports, which to the best of my knowledge, failed to come out openly in support of any Ghanaian candidate.

While it is difficult to say whether Abedi Pele who carried the Ghanaian challenge to Tunisia did so after due consultation with the government, it was evident that the government did not declare an open support for him, nor did they use the apparatus of government to solicit for votes for him from friendly nations.

We also failed to take cognisance of the reality that the CAF leadership is a closely-knit family, which has its preference for people they consider as allies or potential allies and that anybody who does not belong to that classification would be schemed out of the main stream.

No doubt Edwin Snowe, the youthful Liberian Football Association boss was annihilated in Mali by an infirm and sickly Mawade Wade from Senegal and a sitting member of the Executive Committee, Leo Mugabe of Zimbabwe lost out miserably to Molefi Oliphant, his South African challenger. Needless to recount that the all-powerful Oussaynou Dieng of Cote d' Ivoire was muscled out of contention on the CAF Executive committee and had to pull out of the race for a place on the FIFA Executive Committee because of disagreements with some power brokers on CAF.

With such historical antecedent at our disposal, it was to say the least a national blunder to forward the name of Abedi Pele who had openly scorned and defied Issa Hayatou and his regime, to vie for the enviable position on the ticket of mother Ghana.

It showed how unserious we were about the elections.

While government predicted a Hayatou victory, probably based on its intelligence network or behind the scene investigations and supported him openly and solidly, we sponsored someone from an opposing camp into the same election.

Abedi Pele must have been an excellent footballer but it will be foolhardiness to conclude that he has cut his teeth as an astute football administrator with the clout to pip someone who has the support of Hayatou and his clique.

If indeed Ghana needs that seat, then we must eschew political inclinations and vindictiveness and sponsor someone who stands the chance of upstaging whatever kind of opposition there would be. There are so many such people in Ghana but I think, Alhaji Nurudeen Jawula could be the ace or the trump card that would deliver the seat to mother Ghana.

Let us close our ranks and work in the national interest instead of allowing some imaginable partitions to deny us the chance of exerting ourselves on the continent.

Let us, in the national interest, sponsor candidates who will be acceptable to the international community without any doubts in their minds about their competence and loyalty.

Kofi Annan and Ibn Chambas are on the podium receiving accolades for their "Ghanaianess" and many more Ghanaians can thicken the national pride with distinctive performances if they get the chance. Let us aim a round peg at a round hole and a square one at a square hole. Keep shooting!

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