The Sunday Mail
PHILIP CHIYANGWA’s reign as COSAFA president officially ended yesterday with the Southern African football body paying tribute to the businessman for overseeing a successful tenure.
Chiyangwa was elected to the helm of the 14-nation bloc in December 2016 when he was then ZIFA president.
COSAFA’s initial elective assembly in 2021 was shelved due to Covid-19.
At yesterday’s indaba in Namibia, Artur de Almeida e Silva from Angola was elected unopposed as the new president for the next four years.
According to reports from Windhoek, Comoros Football Federation president Said Ali Said Athouman was the only nominee for the vice president position and was duly elected.
There were five ordinary members who were also elected, namely Timothy Shongwe (Eswatini), Walter Nyamilandu-Manda (Malawi), Faizal Sidat (Mozambique), Ms Brenda Kunda (Zambia) and Khiba Mohoanyane (Lesotho).
The COSAFA statutes stipulate that one ordinary member must be a woman.
“I am delighted to have been given the trust and confidence of COSAFA nations to lead the organisation for the next four years,” Artur de Almeida said.
“I must thank the outgoing leadership under president Philip Chiyangwa for the excellent work of the executive committee since their election in December 2016.
“I am confident the future of COSAFA is full of potential, and I am excited to hit the ground running and grow the organisation in the coming years so that it may continue to serve football in our Southern African region to the benefit of all member associations,” he said.
Thirteen of the 14 COSAFA member associations were present at the elective General Assembly, with only Zimbabwe conspicuous by its absence after the recent suspension from all football activities by FIFA.
Although the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) have kept a light lid on developments, The Sunday Mail Sport understands that the sport regulatory body is set to announce their position this week and are likely to lift the ZIFA board’s suspension.
That could pave way for the leadership of acting president Gift Banda and the board that was constituted after the ouster of Felton Kamambo, Philemon Machana and Bryton Malandule at the ZIFA EGM on April 23.
Zimbabwe’s absence, however, did not derail proceedings at the COSAFA assembly, which was also attended by Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Patrice Motsepe and the continental body’s general secretary Veron Mosengo-Omba, including the presidents of CECAFA and WAFU, Wallace Karia and Mustapha Raji.
While the ousted Kamambo had running battles with Government through the SRC, Motsepe underscored to delegates in Windhoek the need for football bodies to work closely with governments to grow the game.
“You can’t separate football and the economic growth of our countries. I am confident [for the future].
“We are about football. In Eswatini, Lesotho, in every country, part of what we must do is make sure we get more funding. Were government works together with our football leaders, we make progress,’’ Motsepe said.
In his valedictory message, Chiyangwa, who guided COSAFA as they rode through the Covid-19 storm, expressed hope that Africa’s biggest regional bloc would continue to grow football and benefit member countries.
“For anyone in a leadership position, the joy of holding high office comes with the successes you are able to count during your tenure, Chiyangwa said.
“It is for that reason that I leave the role of president of COSAFA with an abundant feeling of fulfilment at the huge strides we have made since I took up the position five years ago.
“We have managed to grow our number of competitions, specifically for women, and for the most part hosted them annually until the Covid-19 pandemic brought about challenges that none of us could foresee.
“But, even in the midst of this trying time for the continent, COSAFA have been leaders in providing the platform for young boys and girls to live out their dreams on the football pitch.”
He said during his first year in office in 2017, he ensured the COSAFA Women’s Championship made a return to the COSAFA calendar after it had been suspended since 2011.
“I am proud to say that it has been played every year since, and teams such as South Africa and Zambia have benefitted greatly from that regular action and gone on to reach the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the Olympics, respectively, flying the flag for our region.”
In 2018, COSAFA held a record six tournaments after Chiyangwa sourced funds for the competitions from FIFA.
Similarly, in 2019, six competitions were also held in all age-groups from Under-17 to senior football, and for both genders.
“Again, this was a first for COSAFA. We aimed high, reached for the stars and fulfilled a goal I had set myself as president,’’ added Chiyangwa.