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Sports News
Ghana''s Nyantakyi must be wary of crafty Benin opponent 2/20/2011

Yaw Ampofo-Ankrah is a former Anchor of BBC Fast Track and currently the Executive Producer of E.tv Sports in Ghana. In this article, he writes for the Khartoum based Sudan Vision newspaper on the chances of the young and highly respected Ghana FA President Kwesi Nyantakyi in next week’s Caf elections.

Of all the candidates, he appears to be the one with the most economic campaign budget. Yet by this time next week, Kwesi Nyantakyi could be celebrating “Ghana’s election’’ onto the most influential and much sought-after Caf executive committee. His opponents have come with more than just “manifestos".

I say "Ghana’s election" because once the 43-year-old occupies a Caf seat, he would be there for his country and the continent and not for himself.

So what are his chances of joining Ohene Djan (1961- 1966), Kobina Hagan (1961-1962) Nana Fredua Mensah (1968 - 1972) and Sam Okyere (1990-1994) as distinguished Ghanaians to have served on Caf’s executive committee?

Nyantakyi will contest against four other candidates namely Tata Avlessi the former Togo FA boss; Hima Souley a Caf match commissioner from Niger; Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima who is a former FA boss from Nigeria and last but not least, his potential closest rival, the unpredictable, confident and as I have just discovered, rather flamboyant Moucharaf Anjorin of Benin. The latter is keen to give the impression that he is ever so ready to take care of the voters.

The Beninois who goes everywhere with his immaculately dressed personal assistant and a big black briefcase is on the prowl and making noise has sensationally claimed that he called Nyantakyi on phone to ask him to withdraw his candidature because the Ghanaian cannot beat him on Tuesday. Ironically, Anjorin does not even have the support of his own football federation based in Cotonou.

Just like his West African opponent, Anjorin has come under sporadic fire from his own people back home, but his situation can be said to be self inflicted and far more perilous compared to the FA boss of Ghana. The fact that Anjorin is still the head of the Benin Football Federation (FBF) can be considered a miracle in itself.

Twelve members of the 15-member Benin FA executive committee resigned a few weeks ago accusing their boss of being a corrupt dictator. The resignations left the FBF in deep crisis as the remaining three members of the federation are unable to take decisions according to the country’s football constitution.

In the immediate wake of the mass resignations, the popular belief was that Anjorin’s authority and legitimacy had been so compromised that his quest to win a seat on the CAF executive committee was over. Even when the breakaway group elected Victorien Attoluo as the new FA President of Benin, Anjorin did not resign.

Instead he stood his ground, he is still in charge and quite clearly, very hungry to stand for elections here in Khartoum next week. Another statement signed by all the 12 former members of the FBF accusing Anjorin of isolating them and taking unilateral decisions has made little or no difference.

In a bold and mafia style move, Anjorin has rather mobilised his own men to find quick replacements for the 12 members who had resigned.

Anjorin’s confidence cannot be dismissed lightly because he holds a strong constituency and has been a loyal ally of Caf President Issa Hayatou . African Football observers believe that this is where the Beninois is counting on his connections at the continental governing body to win the vacant CAF West Africa B position.

It is quite clear that Nyantakyi is seen by many reformists within Caf as the way forward in African Football and someone who has earned his right to contest a Caf position.

However, these same liberal voices are not ready to be vociferous of their support for the Ghanaian for fear of upsetting the order. Their opportunity will come when it is time to cast the secret vote.

What may ultimately work in Nyantakyi’s favour is the seeming swing of Francophone votes in his favour and the fact that he was the very first candidate to be endorsed by his association following the 2010 Fifa World Cup Finals in South Africa. He is also the proud recipient of the Caf President Award in 2010 which was personally proposed by outgoing Caf Execuitve member. Gen Seye Memene of Togo.

If it came down to achievements alone, Nyantakyi would probably win hands down against his four opponents, but Caf does not work that way and that is why Anjorin in particular, Nigeria’s Galadima and Souley of Niger feel equally confident of attracting enough votes to take the vacant seat.

By Yaw Ampofo-Ankrah in Khartoum

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