17 February 2019 08:22
On the eve of the final of the 21st edition of the Total U-20 Africa Cup of Nations, Niger 2019, CAF President Ahmad Ahmad and the president of the Nigerian Football Federation (FENIFOOT), Colonel-Major Djibrilla Hima Hamidou held a press briefing in Niamey.
The briefing largely centred on the tournament which climaxes on Sunday, with Mali and Senegal battling for the title, amongst other issues related to African football.
Question: How do you explain the enthusiasm of the public in matches after the premature exit of the hosts and what message would you like to convey to the continent as the youth tournaments do not attract huge crowds?
President Ahmad: Unlike senior tournaments this is a developmental competition where you have to build youth football. It is in this sense that the U-17 and U-20 Africa Cup of Nations exist - to allow the young players to express themselves and flourish.
These are events that grab world’s attention especially scouts, who have been evergreen at this tournament. It is a competition that is also important for the host country because it allows them to develop their sporting infrastructure. Today, in addition to the stadium of Niamey, Niger can now host international competitions in the city of Maradi, where the stadium meets international standards. Previously, it was only Niamey which had the capacity to host such matches. I take this opportunity to thank the President of the Republic of Niger, His Excellency Mahamadou Issoufou, for providing the means to meet the challenges of this Total U-20 Africa Cup of Nations, Niger 2019.
What do you make of the technical aspect of the tournament?
President Ahmad: I reiterate my applause to the CAF Technical Study Group (TSG) and the result of their work will not gather dust on the shelves.
In this regard, we will ask the CAF Development Department to meet with the TSG’s and the four teams qualified to the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019 (Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa) to see how they can improve the technical and tactical aspects of their ahead of the global championship.
Question: What would you say about recent comments by CAF Executive Committee member Musa Bility making rounds in the media?
President Ahmad: In francophone culture, there are rules that govern an organization thus the rules of decorum, culture and education. However, it's never too late to learn in life even when you are very old. It should be remembered that the statutes of the CAF oblige me (CAF President) to organize two Executive Committee meetings every year but we organize three or four since I assumed rein.
Regarding meetings of the emergency committee held in between meetings of the Executive Committee, there is a statutory requirement for the president to organize such meetings. At least every two months, there is a meeting of the Emergency Committee. How can we meet and the members of the emergency committee not be able to make decisions?
It should also be noted that there are debates during meetings of the executive committee. The difference is that I am a politician who has another way of seeing things.
When I stand for election and it is over, I do not split between the winners and the losers. Maybe that does not please everyone.
And I also want to clarify that I have never deviated from my program. I challenge anyone to check if there is something I have not adhered to.
We have an organization where there is only the president who by statute represents CAF.
Generally in life we can walk together but there will always be people who will deviate from the path we take. The bottom line is that I evolve with my administration, my family is CAF.
Much has been said about the decisions regarding the allocation of AFCON, but can people talk about it today? Who was right except the CAF with the support of our Heads of State, with our African culture based on wisdom, conciliation and solidarity? I have always wanted to set up a CAF in the shape of a large African family and we hope to be on the right track.
Question: What relationships do you want with the media?
President Ahmad: I specifically hope that the relationship between CAF and the media will be further strengthened. That is not done in the sense of destroying but for the development of African football. My wish is that we have a space for dialogue for an explanation where we can say what to say and how we can help each other if we have to.