Patrice Motsepe. Picture: SOWETAN/THULANI MBELE
Patrice Motsepe. Picture: SOWETAN/THULANI MBELE

Mamelodi Sundowns  owner Patrice Motsepe’s path to the Confederation of African Football (Caf) presidency appears to have become a lot smoother after it emerged that his rivals for the seat have been convinced to withdraw from the race and serve under him.          

Insiders told Business Day on Monday that Fifa president Gianni Infantino has brokered a deal that could see Senegal’s Augustin Senghor and Mauritania’s Ahmad Yahya take up the first and second vice-president seats at the Caf elective congress in Rabat‚ Morocco‚ on March 12.

The insider said Motsepe travelled to Morocco at the weekend to conclude the ground-breaking deal with Senghor and Yahya.

“As I speak to you, Senghor‚ Patrice Motsepe and Yahya are in Morocco. They have been in Morocco since this weekend‚” the insider said. “The Caf presidential candidates have reached an agreement and his [Motsepe’s] competitors will be his first and second vice-presidents.”

The deal will complete an amazing journey for the Sundowns boss as few gave him a chance when he embarked on the journey to assume the most powerful football seat on the continent in 2020.

Some thought his was a pipe dream as Southern Africa has struggled to secure a place at the Caf head table and many have failed to make inroads into a club that has been dominated by north African nations. Some of those who have failed include influential figures who are well versed in continental football politics yet were kept out by members of the “old boys’ club”.

But Motsepe appears to have found a magic formula that is largely backed by Infantino’s influence.

The mining magnate presented his 10-point action plan a few days ago at the Sandton Convention Centre, where he spelt out his determination to succeed Ahmad Ahmad‚ who has courted controversy during most of his time at the helm.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) dramatically reinstated Ahmad as president of Caf temporarily in January pending an appeal against a five-year ban from football.

Ahmad has taken an appeal against his ban to the international sporting court — the highest body in sports judicial decisions — in Lausanne, Switzerland. Cas released a statement at the time saying the appeal will be heard on March 2‚ 10 days before the Caf presidential election on March 12. Voting for positions on the Fifa council takes place on the same day.

Cas reinstated Ahmad due to “a risk of irreparable harm for Mr Ahmad if the disciplinary sanction is maintained during the period before the Caf elections”.

Motsepe said a few days ago he has quickly found that football is a lot trickier than the business world he’s been a part of for a number of years.

“I must say that I know in business there is a lot of misinformation‚ but I am learning that maybe football takes the cup when it comes to misinformation‚” he said.

Safa president Danny Jordaan‚ Cosafa president Phillip Chiyangwa‚ sports minister Nathi Mthethwa and Premier Soccer League chair and Safa vice-president Irvin Khoza were panellists in the launch of Motsepe’s plan.

Influential Nigerian FA head Amaju Pinnick‚ TP Mazembe owner Moise Katumbi and various heads of southern African football associations who support Motsepe’s campaign also attended.

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