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Page last updated at 17:10 GMT, Saturday, 26 September 2009 18:10 UK

Shock leader for SA football

Piers Edwards
BBC Sport, Johannesburg

Kirsten Nematandani
Kirsten Nematandani is the new President of Safa

Kirsten Nematandani's surprise election as President of the South African Football Association (Safa) has swept aside Fifa fears for next year's World Cup.

The world governing body had been concerned that fall-out from the Safa elections would affect preparation for next year's finals.

Rival candidates Irvin Khoza and Danny Jordaan, do not hit it off despite working as Chairman and CEO of the World Cup Organising Committee (LOC).

Both men surprisingly withdrew from Saturday's elections.

Amidst chaotic scenes, this ultimately enabled Nematandani, who chairs Safa's Referees Committee, to swoop in unopposed.

Yet Jordaan effectively carried the day because Nematandani is part of the Football Transformation Forum (FTF) established last year to propel either man to Safa's top post.

"All speculation about the World Cup and these elections should be history in the sense that both Jordaan and Khoza have shaken hands and said that in the interests of football they are going back to do their job," Nematandani announced.

"That is a sign that the fears Fifa had probably had some substance but we can now say the World Cup is back on track and that there is no fear of any harm to the game."

In fact, the animosity between LOC chairman Khoza and CEO Jordaan is such that the 120 police patrolling the elections searched delegates' cars for firearms as they arrived for the vote.

Delegates supporting the varying camps have clashed before, resulting in an untidy brawl at the previous Safa meeting.

I've been involved with Safa at national level for 20 years, and with this power struggle this was one of the worst meetings I've ever been involved in

Boya Chetty, regional delegate

In the elections run-up, Fifa had warned that either Khoza or Jordaan would have to relinquish their LOC role should they win the presidency.

That this is no longer an issue will delight Fifa chief Sepp Blatter, especially with just nine months left before Africa hosts its first World Cup finals.

Yet in effect, Jordan 'won' the election because he founded the FTF last December along with Nematandani and Safa's two new vice-presidents: Mwelo Nonkonyana and Mandla Mazibuko.

"Both Danny and Kirsten agreed that whoever had the best chance of winning would be put forward and that is what happened," said Dennis Mumble, Jordaan's right-hand man at the FTF.

Jordaan withdrew after the Premier Soccer League, which is chaired by Khoza, questioned the 56-year-old's eligibility to run for the presidency.

Meanwhile, Khoza abandoned his candidacy after an early vote on a separate matter indicated that the numbers in a bi-partisan election were not in his favour.

Yet unlike Jordaan, who has clearly retained the political skills that saw him serve as an MP in the 1990s, Khoza had no back-up option.

In his welcome speech, Nematandani pledged to 'address issues of football development, ensure we put structures together and make sure we have a Safa which listens'.

But he refused to be drawn on whether he would dismiss national coach Joel Santana, who is under severe pressure in South Africa following a run of poor displays.

In a separate development, outgoing president Molefi Oliphant was appointed honorary life president of a football association which has undergone a sweeping change.



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see also
Fifa issues warning over SA vote
08 Sep 09 |  African
Fifa warns of fake tickets
25 Sep 09 |  African
Fish says SA are playing catch-up
23 Sep 09 |  African


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