Ahmad Ahmad from Madagascar celebrates one year as CAF president Friday having caused a shock last March by ending the 29-year reign of Cameroonian Issa Hayatou.
It has been a hectic time for the previously largely unknown Malagasy with plenty of changes to the African football landscape and numerous meetings with heads of state.
After the increasingly autocratic rule of Hayatou, Ahmad has been more democratic, allowing all stakeholders a chance to air views and contribute toward decision making.
We review the first year in office of Ahmad, highlighting his successes and also challenges that lie ahead.
– Morocco hosted two worthwhile symposiums, one looking at all aspects of African football and the other concentrating on the role of women in the sport.
– The Africa Cup of Nations dates were changed from January/February to June/July with effect from 2019, freeing up Europe-based stars reluctant to leave clubs in mid-season.
– CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup seasons changed from February/November to September/May, bringing them in line with most African domestic seasons.
– There may be only two women on the CAF executive – Isha Johansen of Sierra Leone and Lydia Nsekera of Burundi – but the winds of change are gathering strength.
– CAF now pay referees for international assignments instead of host nations or clubs, lessening the risk of pressure being placed on match officials to favour one side.
– Cup of Nations hosting uncertainty – 2019 hosts Cameroon are latest country racing against clock – has to end. Set a readiness deadline and stick to it.
– CAF club prizes must increase. South African side SuperSport United lost money last season despite reaching the Confederation Cup final.
– The CAF Super Cup match in which the Champions League winners host the Confederation Cup title-holders is grossly unfair and should become a two-leg affair.
– More former stars are getting CAF positions, but only one, 1988 African Footballer of the Year Kalusha Bwalya of Zambia, is part of the executive.
– Many pre-match “dirty tricks”, especially concerning training facilities, could be avoided if the neutral, well-renumerated match commissioners became more involved.