Piers Edwards: Africa’s new footballing king

Ahmad

Ahmad will lead Caf until 2021 at the earliest

When the idea was first put to Madagascar’s Ahmad that he could lead the Confederation of African Football (Caf) one day, his riposte was succinct.

“‘You are crazy’, I told them,” the new Caf president told BBC Sport.

A few months on, the 57-year-old holds the future of the African game in his hands.

He sent shockwaves throughout Africa on Thursday when managing what no one else ever had – beating Issa Hayatou, who took power in 1988, in a Caf election.

Prior to announcing his candidacy in January, few had ever heard of Ahmad.

But the reason he was approached by 15 or so FA presidents from across the continent – first in May, and then again in September (when the seed started to germinate) – was because he was on the Executive Committee (ExCo).

And after Hayatou oversaw a rule change in 2012, seen by many as a plot to prevent a rival seeking his job, only voting members of the ExCo can run for the presidency.

So who exactly is Ahmad, what does he hope to achieve during his four-year spell in charge and how did he rise to power?

THE MAN

Firstly, Ahmad – who goes by just the one name – once played and coached in Madagascar’s top division.

After quitting football, he ultimately ventured into politics – holding positions as his country’s minister of sport, and then of fisheries – before becoming a parliamentary senator, a role he still holds today.

After becoming Madagascar FA president in 2003, he was elected onto Caf’s ExCo ten years later – before, in January, he confirmed rumours by announcing he was challenging Hayatou.

“At the beginning, I heard the comments of people – ‘he’s nothing, he’s like a joke,’” he told BBC Sport.

Today, the ‘joker’ is king and holding all the aces.

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