GABORONE - Seychelles official Suketu Patel swept to power on Saturday in a three-way fight to run southern Africa football.
Patel collected seven votes, Namibian Petrus Damaseb four and former Zambia superstar Kalusha Bwalya two in the contest to elect a successor to disgraced Botswana Ismail Bhamjee as president of the regional Cosafa body.
The president of the Seychelles Football Federation is also a member of the African Football Confederation (CAF) executive committee headed by long-serving continental chief Issa Hayatou from Cameroon.
"Cosafa has to be strong and progress so we support Suketu because we believe he will push the region to a higher level," said South African Football Association president Molefi Oliphant.
The result marked the end of the road for Bhamjee, who was expelled from this year's World Cup in Germany after a London newspaper exposed him selling 12 tickets to England supporters at triple their official value.
He resigned from the executive committee of world governing body Fifa soon after and was expelled from the Botswana Football Association on a 42-40 vote after a stormy meeting.
While Patel prepares for a critical four-year term, 1988 Footballer of the Year and pre-vote favourite Bwalya was left wondering where his campaign went wrong.
Africa has been painfully slow to elevate former footballers to positions of power, but Bwalya had been confident ahead of the Cosafa meeting in the tranquil Botswana capital.
"I have done my homework properly and I am confident it will be good enough to get me there," the former star with Dutch club PSV Eindhoven told the BCC during the countdown.
But a hint that all was not well came when Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) vice-president Bwalya openly questioned whether president Teddy Mulonga would back him.
"We're in a war and there is no way you can give a gun to your friend. What kind of war would that be?" asked Bwalya, prompting a quick declaration of FAZ support. - Sapa-AFP