Fifa, SA give nod for new Safa boss

2009-10-03 14:48

FIFA boss Sepp Blatter and the South African government have given Kirsten Nematandani’s election as the new South African Football Association (Safa) president their blessing.

And this has sounded the death knell to the Irvin Khoza-led Premier Soccer League (PSL) bid to challenge the elections in court.

Blatter and sports minister ­ ­Makhenkesi Stofile were this week among the heavyweights who sent Nematandani congratulatory letters following his dramatic ­election on Saturday.

Blatter’s letter stated that with eight months to go before the 2010 World Cup, a first on African soil: “The South African football community now needs unity around Safa, resolve and hard work to meet the expectations of the world for the organisation of our most important competition and full support behind Bafana Bafana.”

Blatter concluded: “And now I have the pleasure to invite you to come to Zurich at home of Fifa to discuss matters of mutual ­interest.”

Horst Schmidt, who led the German 2006 World Cup and serves Fifa as a consultant for the 2010 event, also sent a letter addressed to “Mr President”.

He added some words of encouragement and caution: “As we all know, things aren’t always easy at first, therefore I include the necessary strength and endurance as well as personal and professional success in my wishes to you.”

Nematandani also received a string of messages from varying sectors, including the ruling ANC and one of its tripartite alliance partners, Cosatu.

Part of the letter from Botswana Football Association president David Fani read: “I write to congratulate you on your election which is testimony to the confidence that the South African football fraternity have in you to take the game of football in South Africa to another level.”

While the PSL, which is a special member of Safa, was still weighing its options of going to court to challenge the polls, Nematandani hit the ground running this week.

He, together with the two vice-presidents Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana and Mandla Mazibuko spent the whole day on Wednesday at the Safa headquarters in Aeroton familiarising themselves with the goings on. They assured chief executive Raymond Hack and staff that no one would be fired.

They also held a meeting with the Joel Santana-led Bafana Bafana technical team. While they asked Santana to turn the fortunes of the team around, they assured him that his job was safe.

Nematandani also presided over his first press conference when First National Bank extended its national Under-17 side sponsorship on Tuesday.

The new president was also all over the air-waves on radio, television and conducted a number of interviews with the print media.

In one of the interviews, he had the media in stitches when he declared that he had nothing to do with the appointment of Solly Luvhengo – who comes from the same area, Thohoyandou – as the president of the Under-17 coach and that an FNB-sponsored artificial turf was to be officially launched today in Thohoyandou.

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