Caf president Ahmad insist much criticised CHAN and Cosafa Cup are not going anywhere
Confederation of African Football (Caf) president Ahmad of Madagascar has dismissed suggestions that the much-maligned Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) and the Cosafa Cup should be scrapped from the continental calendar.
Ahmad, who shocked word football when he became Caf president in April‚ ousting Issa Hayatou from the top office after a 28-year stay — said while the two tournaments are not played on dates designated by Fifa for international games and give national team coaches selection headaches every year‚ they are not going anywhere.
‘‘There is no scientific analysis that tells us to get rid of the two competitions‚” he said at Safa House on Monday.
‘‘Surely we should rather have a study that will allow us how to improve and develop better those two competitions.
‘‘I would like to thank all the presidents of the Cosafa region and also the president of Cosafa (Phillip Chiyangwa) for managing to organise the competition every year‚ which is not the case in most of the other zones (on the continent).
‘‘Our desire is to reinforce the competition in the zone because the continent is so huge and vast. The only way to develop and improve football (on the continent) is within the zones and Caf and Fifa are looking at ways to help develop football in the zones so that we can improve in technicality and quality in the various zones.”
The CHAN tournament is considered as the poorer stepsister of the more lavish African Nations Cup and unlike its more glamorous rival‚ clubs are not obliged to release players to national teams.
The Cosafa Cup faces similar problems and national team coaches have to beg for personnel‚ often having to make do with players who wouldn’t ordinarily come within 100 meters of a Bafana Bafana shirt.
And has become the norm‚ Bafana coach Stuart Baxter was left pulling his hair as he tried to assemble a squad before the start of this year’s Cosafa Cup.
Baxter’s charges face Botswana away in the first leg of the CHAN qualifiers at the Francistown Stadium on Saturday and it will be interesting to see the composition of the squad he will announce on Tuesday‚ given the familiar selection challenges.
Ahmad attended the Cosafa Cup final between Zimbabwe and Zambia at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace on Sunday and then visited Safa House on Monday.
He was taken on a tour of the Safa headquarters by Safa president Danny Jordaan but stopped to answer questions from the media.
He said while he understands the challenges that coaches often have to face‚ the two events will remain on the calendar.
‘‘I would like to thank my predecessors because one of the good things they left behind as a legacy is the CHAN.
‘‘Today if you look at the CHAN it is gaining in status and respectability and whenever it takes place the stadiums are jam-packed.
‘‘The number of countries taking part in the preliminaries is increasing every time. We can see that it improving and we are looking at ways for our players to be able to be released by the clubs so that they can take part in this CHAN competition.”