away they go!

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Top Limpopo soccer administrator Kirsten Nematendani has emerged as one of the early candidates to take over the Safa presidency baton from Molefi Oliphant.

Nematendani, a sports director at the University of Venda, is one of the longest-serving members of the Safa national executive committee.

He is also the convenor of the referees committee.

In addition, Nematendani serves on the Safa management committee, the highest decision-making body that deals with urgent matters.

Sowetan has learnt that several influential soccer leaders insist Nematendani is the most suitable candidate to take over from Oliphant in September next year.

This comes after Oliphant made it clear on Monday that he won't seek re-election, saying he did not want to overstay his welcome as Safa president.

Oliphant has been serving as president of Safa for 11 years, dating back to January 26 1997 after taking over from the late Solomon Morewa.

"Kirsten is a diplomat like Dr Oliphant, he will make a great Safa president too," said a senior Safa member, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"As you are aware, several people have already started making themselves visible in the Safa regions and media because the elections are in September 2009."

Oliphant said he won't recommend his successor, saying the Safa regions will decide who is the most suitable person to lead them.

Nematendani should brace himself for stiff opposition from Mandla "Shoes" Mazibuko and Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana.

Mazibuko is one of the popular new members on the Safa executive, where he also serves on the competitions committee.

He is also the head of delegation for Bafana Bafana and president of the respected South African Schools Football Association.

Nonkonyana is a Safa deputy president. He was elected to the executive after being supported by some of the regions who liked his shoot-from-the-hip style at that stage.

He is also a member of the Safa management committee by virtue of being one of the two vice presidents, along with Mubarak Mahomed.

Veteran Free State leader Obakeng Molatedi cannot be written off. At the same time, Ace Kika, Reuben Mahlalela and Olehile Manong could make dramatic comebacks.

While several old guards on the executive are likely to bow out, "youngsters" like Steve Pila and Stoppa Mabula stand a good chance of coming on board.