All roads in African football lead to Rabat, Morocco, where Confederation of African Football (Caf) is set to usher in new leaders to mark the beginning of a new chapter in the continental game.
With business magnate Patrice Motsepe poised to take over as Caf President with Senegalese FA boss Austin Senghor and Mauritanian FA leader Ahmed Yahya as his deputies, the focus will be on the race for the Fifa Council seat for Africa’s Anglophone bloc.
The bloc has remained with just one slot at Fifa Council following Motsepe’s imminent confirmation.
Filling up the slot will prove a tough task as six football association heads, including Football Association of Malawi (Fam) President Walter Nyamilandu, are battling for it.
The incumbent Fifa Council Member is competing against Amaju Pinnick of Nigeria, Zambia’s Andrew Kamanga, Nicholas Mwendwa (Kenya), Wallace Karia of Tanzania and Lamin Baba Bajo from Gambia.
Nyamilandu shocked the football world when he defeated South African Football Association President Danny Jordaan in 2018 during a re-run of the Fifa post.
Fifa organised the poll to replace Ghanaian Kwesi Nyatakyi who stepped down due to a corruption scandal. While Nyamilandu has chances of retaining his seat, he could sweat for it as Nigerian Amaju Pinnick is considered a favourite.
According to reports, Jordaan has openly endorsed Pinnick, pledging to help him garner all 14 votes from the Cosafa region.
Another factor that could also disadvantage Nyamilandu would be Pinnick’s support for Motsepe’s candidature at a time the Malawian maintained close ties with outgoing Caf President Ahmad, who has been banned from contesting after being found guilty of not recording various transactions during his term of office.
Speaking through Fam Competitions and Communications Director Gomezgani Zakazaka, Nyamilandu said he was confident of retaining the seat.
“I have experience to take African football forward to the next level, having served for two years as a Fifa Council Member. I certainly deserve to serve a full term this time.
“Secondly, the very fact that to qualify to be a candidate one had to undergo a rigorous vetting process by the Fifa Review Committee is testimony that I have served with integrity, accountability and transparency. The spirit of accountability is very crucial in football because it promotes trust between administrators and our partners and sponsors,” Nyamilandu said.
South Africa-based Malawian journalist Benjamin Nyirenda said Nyamilandu should not be underrated.
“Looking at the way he relates with the Fifa President and how he works with the other members, I think Nyamilandu stands a better chance of retaining his seat at Fifa Council,” Nyirenda, who writes for renowned South African soccer magazine Soccer Laduma, said.
Seasoned sports journalist Frank Kandu also tipped Nyamilandu to retain his post.
“He has a firm relationship with some of the members and I believe he will still make it,” Kandu said.
Nyamilandu made history when he became the first Malawian to win a seat at the world football governing body.
The former Malawi National Football Team defender defeated Jordaan 35-18 in a re-run during the poll which took place in Egypt.