JOHANNESBURG: Issa Hayatou has praised South Africa’s staging of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and has stated he will serve his final term in office if re-elected, as expected, at next month’s elections.

This year’s Cup of Nations drew to a close on Sunday as Nigeria defeated Burkina Faso 1-0 in Johannesburg. Libya was originally due to host the tournament, only for it to be switched to South Africa amid security concerns.

The Cup of Nations marked South Africa’s first major football tournament since it hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but the event has faced criticism over poor attendances at certain games and substandard playing surfaces.

However veteran CAF president Hayatou told CNN: “The challenge was to have a successful Africa Cup of Nations because some people thought we couldn’t succeed because South Africa isn’t at the top of the sport at the moment. But the organising committee showed a lot of effort and did everything to ensure that this competition would go well.

“Of course, all the stadiums are not full, unlike what happened at the World Cup but for an Africa Cup of Nations I think we’ve had a record attendance level. We have sold just over 750,000 tickets which is a very good result.”

Earlier Hayatou confirmed his exit strategy from the presidential post he has occupied since 1987. “If I’m elected, this will be the last term,” he told reporters on Friday.

Hayatou is poised to extend his long-running tenure as president of the CAF after he was revealed as the only candidate standing for the post at March’s elections. CAF in December confirmed that Hayatou will be unchallenged for re-election.

The subject of the CAF presidency has proved a thorny one in recent months after a controversial amendment was made to the Confederation’s statutes back in September.

Statutes change

CAF member nations voted to introduce a measure that will permit only executive committee officials to run for the organisation’s presidency. The measure was announced at the CAF Congress in the Seychelles and seemingly put paid to officials such as Jacques Anouma’s hopes of running against Hayatou at the Confederation’s general assembly in Morocco.

Ivory Coast Football Federation (FIF) president Anouma formalised his intention to run for the presidency in July, but the new CAF rule stipulates that anyone seeking the presidency must be a voting member of the CAF executive committee.

Anouma is a member of CAF’s executive committee only because he serves as one of the continent’s representatives on FIFA’s Executive Committee. As such he does not have any voting rights in CAF matters, but has fought a long-running battle to be recognised as a candidate.



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Monday, February 11, 2013

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