The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has announced that the Elective General Assembly where elections will be held for the presidency of African football’s governing body will hold on 12 March 2021 in Rabat, Morocco.
The decision was revealed following a virtual meeting of CAF’s Executive Committee on Thursday, 10 September.
Speculation is sure to mount following the revelation of the timeline for the elective assembly as interested parties jostle and seek alliances.
Incumbent Ahmad Ahmad is expected to throw his hat into the ring for a second term but the Madagascar native has played down speculation that he will attempt to retain his position.
Potential opponents to Ahmad are currently in short supply with the only person to declare for the position former CAF Secretary General Ahmad Fahmy having passed away.
However, there are strong indications that former Ahmad ally and former CAF 1st Vice President Amaju Pinnick is gearing up to contest for African football’s top job.
Pinnick, who also heads the Nigeria Football Federation, has been coy about publicly declaring his intention to contest for the CAF presidency but has admitted that he is currently holding consultations across the continent ahead of a potential run.
If Pinnick and Ahmad both decide to contest, it would mark an upturning in the relationship of the former partners whose collaboration three years ago wrought such a seismic change at the top of African football.
Ahmad’s emergence as president in 2017 owed a lot to a broad continent-wide coalition spearheaded by Pinnick which ended the hegemonic decades-long rule of Cameroonian Issa Hayatou.
The relationship between both men saw Pinnick appointed the Confederation’s 1st Vice President in place of former Ghana FA boss Kwesi Nyantaki who was busted in a sting operation and is currently serving a life ban from all football activities.
But amid internal wranglings, and with CAF enmeshed in an avalanche of corruption scandals, Ahmad who had grown to distrust his erstwhile ally declined to renew the Nigerian’s tenure on its expiration in 2019.
In any event, the position of both men and others interested in the presidency and positions on the CAF Executive Committee will become clearer sooner than later according to the timeline released for the elections which is as follows:
11 September 2020: Opening of the reception of candidatures
12 November 2020: Closing of the reception of candidatures
11 January 2021: Communication of the names of the candidates to all the national associations
12 March 2021: Elective General Assembly
CAF also confirmed this year’s Ordinary General Assembly for 11 December 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
However, due to the health crisis and safety restrictions, Africa’s football governing body placed Tanzania as a backup option while also noting that the Ordinary General Assembly could be held by video conference if the coronavirus pandemic remains unabating.
Other decisions reached at Thursday’s meeting include the ratification of the new dates for the 2021 AFCON and 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
CAF suspended the 2021 AFCON qualifiers in March because of the coronavirus pandemic which wreaked havoc on the football calendar and led to the cancellation of the 2020 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations.
The men’s tournament which will take place in Cameroon was moved by a year and will now take place in 2022.
CAF disclosed that the third and fourth round of 2021 AFCON qualifiers will now take place between 9-17 November with the fifth and final round scheduled for 22-30 March 2021.
Nigeria lead Group L and are well placed to qualify for the continental showpiece having won their first two qualifiers against the Benin Republic in Uyo and Lesotho in Maseru.
The three-time African champions face the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone in a doubleheader before rounding up against the Squirrels of Benin away from home and Crocodiles of Lesotho in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers will now kick-off in May 2021 and end in October 2021.
The qualifiers which have a new format was originally supposed to begin in November.
The campaign will see forty teams divided into ten groups of four will battle for the chance to qualify for the last phase.
Group winners will then face-off in a straight knockout for one of five slots at what will be the first-ever World Cup to be held in November.
Nigeria have been drawn alongside Cape Verde, Central African Republic and Liberia.