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CAF Needs Motsepe’s Vision, Passion

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The race to select the next president of the Confederation of African Football has entered the final stretch with four candidates vying to lead the continent’s biggest sporting discipline.

South African billionaire businessman, Patrice Tlhopane Motsepe, whose money and vision have transformed Mamelodi Sundowns into one of the strongest clubs on the continent, is part of the quartet battling for that post.

The others are Jacques Anouma of Cote d’Ivoire who, at the age of 69, is the oldest member of the field, Ahmed Yahya, the president of the Mauritania Football Federation and Augustine Senghor, the leader of the Senegalese Football Federation.

The four men are battling to replace Ahmad Ahmad, whose bid for re-election, has been halted by FIFA amid a cocktail of allegations that the incumbent CAF boss conducted himself in a manner that is not consistent with such a powerful leadership role.

The Malagasy football official was a surprise candidate, in the last CAF presidential elections, where he took on long-serving Cameroon strongman, Issa Hayatou, who wanted to extend his rule beyond the 28 years he had been in charge of African football.

However, powered by a group of countries who felt Hayatou, had outlived his welcome, and preached the gospel that the game was crying out for a new leader, with fresh ideas, to take it forward, Ahmad upset the Cameroonian to win the elections.

The 34-20 victory margin was as emphatic, as they come in such boardroom battles, and provided confirmation that, indeed, Africa wanted to chart a new course for its number one sport.

Southern African countries, under the banner of the COSAFA umbrella, played a leading role in ending Hayatou’s time as CAF boss, with the then ZIFA president, Philip Chiyangwa, working as Ahmad’s election agent.

However, before even the celebrations had died down, across this part of the continent, happy that one of them had, for the first time in the history of CAF, assumed the role of president, Ahmad started to drift from the course which he had promised the electorate.

First, he abandoned Southern Africa, even though his home country Madagascar had paid a huge price, to support his candidature, with Hayatou and his cronies hitting back by withdrawing the country’s rights to host the African Under-17 Championships.

Instead, Ahmad, seduced by the charm and riches of the Moroccans, set camp in that part of the continent and, gradually, started to lose his way, making some questionable decisions and drawing a picture of himself of a man who could not resist the temptation of the big money which flows in the game.

Soon, he was being embroiled in scandals, including a questionable pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, where CAF was asked to bill part of the costs of that trip by Ahmad and some of his closest lieutenants.

FIFA were left with no option, but to hand him a five-year ban from the game and although he has appealed against that decision, with a final verdict set for early next month, it’s clear his image, and by extension CAF’s image, have been badly injured.

Against that background, it’s important that a reputable person, who can help repair the damage which the game has suffered under Ahmad’s poor leadership, in the last four years, should be elected to lead CAF.

It’s a shame that, because of the shortcomings of Ahmad, and those who have been in charge of the game on the continent, in the last four years, African football fans can’t even watch their national teams play, on television these days.

We believe Motsepe represents the kind of leader which this game has been crying for, someone who has already shown, in transforming Sundowns into such a powerful force in African football, that he has the capacity to take African football to the next level.

Unlike the other three candidates, the South African mining tycoon, is a fresh addition, someone who is not tainted by what has been happening, in the past four years, in particular, and the time under Hayatou, in general.

Yahya, the Mauritanian candidate, might be a good administrator, but he can’t escape criticism that, given he was part of the CAF executive committee led by Ahmad for four years, without criticising the Malagasy football official, he is complicit to the rot in the game today.

 If, he felt that what was happening was wrong why didn’t he raise any alarm, and tell the world, that Ahmad was running down African football?

And, if he was a principled man, why didn’t he chose to leave his position as an executive member of CAF to show he was in opposition to the madness that was taking place?

Instead, Yahya is the same man who accompanied Ahmad to Saudi Arabia on that controversial trip. The same can be said about Senghour, who has been part of the CAF executive, in the last two years.

Anouma is someone, who in the past served on the FIFA Council, trying to make a spectacular comeback, but we believe this isn’t the time to go into the past, for us to find solutions for the future.

Instead, we pick a leaf from UEFA, the most powerful and richest confederation in the world, who decided to go with a lawyer from Slovenia, Aleksander Ceferin, as they tried to find ways of repairing the image which had been battered by the negativity related to their time under Michel Platini.

 That’s why we believe that Motsepe is the perfect candidate for CAF, a fresh face and voice in their corridors, to make a big difference, someone who comes in not lured by the money, which he has in abundance, but by the call to serve the game he loves with a passion.

Someone who, unlike Ahmad, knows he has a reputation to protect and will fight to guard it jealously.

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Uganda Faces Ghana in Africa U20 Cup of Nations Finals

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Uganda’s Hippos have qualified for the final of the AFCONU20 tournament after beating Tunisia making it the first time a Ugandan national team is going to play in the final of a CAF tournament since 1978.

The Ugandans thumped Tunisia 4-1 in the AFCON semi-final on Monday night. Uganda will play Ghana in the final on 06/03/2021.

Ghana became the first team to qualify for the AFCONU20 finals after thrashing the Gambia 1-0. Ghana’s Black Satellites have qualified for the AFCONU20 (AYC) finals six times: 1993, 1999, 2001, 2009, 2013 and 2021.

The 1978 African Cup of Nations Final football match took place on 16 March 1978, at the Accra Sports Stadium in Accra, Ghana, to determine the winner of the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations.

Ghana defeated Uganda 2–0 with two goals from Opoku Afriyie to win their third African Cup.

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Manchester City Boss Tactical innovations Defy Convention

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David Moyes has likened Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola to celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal for his tactical innovations that defy convention.

Blumenthal is famous for coming up with unusual recipes such as bacon and egg flavoured ice-cream and snail porridge, which work despite the ingredients.

West Ham boss Moyes, aiming to end City’s 19-game winning run on Saturday, feels the same about Guardiola. “Pep is the Heston Blumenthal of football,” said Moyes.

Former Barcelona coach Guardiola’s latest move has been to use Joao Cancelo as a full-back and a midfield pivot at the same time, a tactic that has flummoxed a series of opposing managers.

“Blumenthal will do something stupid or outrageous that you would never dream of, like mixing chocolate with eggs and you think ‘that is never going to work, it is not going to taste right or look good’. But it does,” Moyes added.

“Pep does things in football terms which are remarkable, that lots of other people would not have thought of. I hold him in such high esteem. He is innovative and always looking for new ideas. “I get this feeling he is in a think-tank room, thinking about how he can make his players perform better, or where they can receive the ball in space and make it difficult for the opposition.”

In cooking terms, Moyes likens himself to fellow Scot Gordon Ramsay, famous for his fiery temper and choice language: “You know what you are getting there don’t you?”

However, stopping Cancelo is not proving to be a particularly amusing pastime and is causing Moyes to think hard about how to go about getting the kind of positive result that will keep his side in the top four.

“How you deal with it takes up a lot of your thought time,” he said.

“If it is a level playing field, you might say we will take you on and do our own thing. When your players are maybe not at the level of the ones Manchester City have it is a struggle.”

While West Ham travel to Etihad Stadium (kick-off 12.30 GMT) after beating Tottenham on Sunday, Premier League leaders City’s impressive winning run continued with a one-sided Champions League triumph over Borussia Monchengladbach in their last-16 first leg on Wednesday, Following that 2-0 victory, Guardiola said City’s current form and the club’s success since his appointment in 2016 was simply down to the money they had spent.

“We have a lot of money to buy a lot of incredible players,” he said on Wednesday. “Without good quality players we cannot do it.” Returning to the topic in Friday’s press conference, Guardiola reiterated that “the difference is the players” and played down his own influence.

“I would tell you if I believed the reason [for our success] was me,” Guardiola said. “I would be grateful to say that the reason behind this success is because I’m so handsome and that’s the reason why. It’s not like that. It’s the players. The big clubs have incredible success and it’s due to the quality of the players, the mentality.”

City, who have won two Premier League titles, one FA Cup and three League Cups under Guardiola, have made several big-money signings during the Spaniard’s tenure – with £65m defender Ruben Dias the most recent arrival in September.

Riyad Mahrez, Aymeric Laporte, Joao Cancelo, Rodri, Benjamin Mendy and John Stones have all also arrived for fees in excess of £50m. “I came here to win in England and we have done it already – but I did it,” Guardiola added. “I came to play in a special way and I did it.

The job is done, but still I have the feeling we can do better. “For a short time, you can do it without top players but sustaining for a long time – in an incredible organisation that supports their manager so the journalists and the players know he will not be sacked – this is so important.

“After that, [you need] top quality players. I never in my 12 years as manager scored a goal. I never saved a penalty. The artists are the players. All we can do is help them, knowing that doing the same, you can lose.”

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Sports Activities Resume In Rwanda After Lockdown

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Outdoor sports activities are now allowed to resume following resolutions from Cabinet Meeting held on February 19, 2021 on measures related to the prevention of COVID-19 in Rwanda, the Ministry of Sports said on Sunday Morning.

The decision is part of the government’s decision to allow a progressive resumption of social and economic activities effective from February 23, after a three week-long lockdown.

The Ministry said that the following individual and non-contact activities include jogging, athletics, individual physical fitness outdoor exercises, hiking, cycling, golf, tennis, table-tennis, golf, badminton, skate, archery and squash; Martial arts (Karate, Taekwondo, Boxing, Kung Fu, and Fencing).

Only individual fitness exercises and practice are allowed. Group practice and competitions are prohibited, the Ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, gyms, recreational centers, and swimming pools remain closed, however, gyms and swimming pools in hotels are allowed to operate for accommodated guests with COVID-19 negative test results.

“The mentioned individual and outdoor sports are allowed at the Amahoro Stadium’s surrounding from 6AM to 6PM in respect to the related preventive measures,” the communique signed by the Sports Minister, Aurore Mimosa Munyangaju, said.

Districts with stadium facilities are allowed to use them for the above-mentioned individual sports granting access to their citizens.

They are however requested to issue stadium access guidelines and enforce compliance to preventive measures during practice hours.

National Teams, Clubs preparing and participating in international competitions are allowed to train and prepare under special authorization requested to the Ministry of Sports after submission and approval of proposed COVID-19 preventive guidelines to comply to during training.

“Wearing a face mask before and after the exercise session is a must. Hand sanitizers must be carried all the time during outdoor sports and physical exercises and be used whenever necessary;” the Ministry warned.

It also insisted that there must be strict respect of social distancing of at least two meters between individuals in outdoor physical exercises and each individual is strictly requested to have their own sports equipment and avoid sharing or side placing with others.

Individuals with symptoms such as flu, cold, fever, cough, sneezing, headache are not allowed to practice sports or physical exercises in public but rather consult health services.

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