ABUJA: The president of the Nigerian football federation has joined calls for Issa Hayatou to step down after three decades at the head of African football writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Hayatou, Cameroonian senior vice-president of world federation FIFA, has twice had the CAF statutes amended to enable him to extend a reign which began after the death of Ethiopia’s  Yidnekatchew Tessema in 1988.

But Ahmad Ahmad, head of the Madagascar FA, has built increasing momentum in his challenge to Hayatou and was further encouraged when the southern region grouping, COSAFA, decided at the weekend to endorse his candidacy.

Ahmed is a member of the CAF executive committee which qualifies him to stand in the election in Ethiopia on March 16 as well as being vice-president of the Madagascar senate.

Now he has also claimed the support of NFF president Amaju Pinnick.

Ahmad said: “Amaju Pinnick is a close ally and he supports my bid to head CAF . . . We want change in the confederation; we want a reform in the finance programme of CAF; we want ex-footballers to join the body.

“I’m not going after Issa Hayatou or replacing him, the goal is to change the system.”

FIFA president Gianni Infantino, in Zimbabwe at the weekend and now in Qatar, has been reported as informally encouraging opposition to Hayatou who is one of the remaining ‘old guard’ from the disgraced Zurich regime of now-banned Sepp Blatter.

Pinnick is standing in CAF elections himself in pursuit of a place on the exco instead of long-standing incumbent Anjorin Moucharafou, the head of the Benin federation.