KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- South African millionaire business Patrice Motsepe is apparently poised to become the new president of the African football confederation at its election congress in Rabat, Morocco, on March 12.

It is understood from sources close to CAF that Motsepe’s breakthrough for the southern region has been influenced significantly by Gianni Infantino. The president of world federation FIFA has spent much of the last few weeks focusing on the need to impose his choice as replacement for scandal-hit Ahmad Ahmad.

Patrice Motsepe . . . mining millionaire businessman

Infantino has been heavily criticised in some quarters for taking¬† a puppet-master role but this would seem perfectly justified considering the millions of dollars of FIFA development funding which has ‘gone missing’ in Africa down the years.

Infantino will hope this is second time lucky: his misjudged support in 2017 of Ahmad to replace Cameroon’s long-serving Issa Hayatou turned out to be disastrous.

Motsepe’s accession would also mark a notable coup for the behind-the-scenes work of Danny Jordaan, the South African FA president who has known his share of political ups and downs since leading the country’s successful bidding and hosting of the 2010 World Cup finals.

Change of guard

Motsepe’s election, despite his late arrival in the complex African football political scene, would mark a major break after decades of the domination of CAF by the Francophone-Arab central and northern regions.

His three election rivals have all reportedly accepted the prospect of senior roles: Senegal’s Augustin Senghor as first vice-president and Mauritanian Ahmed Yahya as second vice-president.¬†The Ivory Coast’s Jacques Anouma would be appointed ‘special adviser’ to the president.

The one uncertainty concerns the status of Ahmad. He was banned from football for five years by the FIFA ethics committee for misuse of funds but had that suspension lifted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport pending an appeal hearing tomorrow.