What does Ahmad's Caf victory mean for Kenya?

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There's a new man at the head of Caf, but what does the Malagasy administrator's arrival mean for the East African nation?

Football Kenya Federation boss Nick Mwendwa could not hide his excitement in the wake of last week's election of Ahmad Ahmad as the Confederation of African Football President.

On his official twitter page, Mwendwa, an innovative 38 year-old with expansive interests in Kenya's IT industry, is not shying away from the fact that he voted for Ahmad against the wishes of the Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa)'s top brass, which had publicly declared support for the dethroned Issa Hayatou.

Ahmad, a 57-year old father of two who had a discreet playing and coaching career before he took the reins of the Madagascar football federation in 2003, won the elections held in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa by 34 votes to Hayatou’s 20.

Ahmad Ahmad

New Caf President Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar

While addressing the media in Nairobi on Saturday, Mwendwa, who has been at the helm of Kenyan football for just over a year, says the country should expect a bagful of goodies from Ahmad's regime. "For starters we are hosting Africa Nations Championship (Chan) in 2018. That is now a fact. In case we fail to host, it will be Kenya's (and not Caf's) failure," he told journalists.

He added, “I also expect more Kenyans to be elected or appointed to various Caf committees. At the moment, there is only myself, Doris (Petra) and Robert (Asembo)."

 

The Chan admission is particularly eye-catching, considering Kenya had been given thumbs up to host the continental showpiece by Caf a day before the elections. However, it is now emerging that Caf were considering taking the competition rights away from Kenya had Hayatou won the election in protest over Mwendwa's stance of supporting Ahmad.

"If Hayatou had won, Kenya would have lost the Chan to Morocco. It was 90 percent a done deal." a source in Casblanca exclusively told Goal.

Issa Hayatou, Tony Nnacheta

What would a Hayatou win have meant for Kenya & Mwendwa?

That said, Kenya still has a long way to go - preparation-wise - to be in a position to host the tournament, although works have commenced in earnest in stadiums based in Nairobi, Eldoret and Meru.

That aside, some interesting proposals from Ahmad's camp have emerged which may benefit the East  African nation. There have been suggestions that the Africa Cup of Nations could be expanded to 24 teams from the current 16 in 2024, which could greatly aid Kenya's chances of qualifying for the tournament.

Similarly, Mwendwa has also announced the country is keen to bid for the hosting rights of the 2020 U-17 Fifa World Cup, obviously with Caf's help.

Issa Hayatou Rais CAF

Will Hayatou's exit make it easier for Kenya to reach the Afcon?

"The problem we had with (Issa) Hayatou's regime is that most major tournaments have been hosted in West Africa," complained Mwendwa. "The Nations Cup, for example, the last two editions were held in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, the coming three are in Cameroon, Guinea and Ivory Coast.

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"Why not Zambia for instance which recently hosted a very successful U-20 Africa Cup of Nations?" 

The Caf Presidency is a remarkably powerful position, with the incumbent controlling the football and political interests of more than 54 countries, not to mention overseeing budgets of up to Sh30billion annually, amounts that are mainly drawn from sponsorship deals.

The early signs are that Kenya are set to be better off following the change of leadership, with Ahmad, and not Hayatou, in command of the continent's football.

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