Ghana FA president Kwesi Nyantakyi has been leading the country’s 2017 Africa Cup of Nations bid team in intense final lobbying in Cairo to help the nation land the rights to host Africa’s flagship football competition today.
Widespread news of Gabon being the favourites to win the rights to host the tournament has led Ghana into a frantic and desperate last minute measures to turn the tide in favour of the West African country as CAF announces the winner later today (Wednesday).
Nyantakyi, who is a member of the 14-man Executive Committee of CAF who will vote to decide on the winner, has been spotted in a hotel in the Egyptian capital leading the Ghana delegation to convince the other members on the powerful body.
Ghana’s high powered delegation is led by the country’s sports minister Mustapha Ahmed who has been told of the moves made by Gabon to win the race which has also sparked Nyantakyi to join the bid team to seek to change their fortunes.
Even though he is part of the Executive Committee of CAF and the leader of the Ghanaian football federation, Nyantakyi is not part of the country’s bid team yet is playing the key role in helping the nation to win the rights.
Insiders and media observers say through the effort of Nyantakyi, the Ghana bid team also managed to secure a face-to-face meeting with the highly influential President of CAF Alhaji Issa Hayatou before the presentations are made on Wednesday.
Since Sunday night, the GFA boss has been booking appointments with his fellow CAF Executive Committee members to meet the Ghana bid team to convince and lobby them before the official meeting is held to hear the presentations by the three countries in the race.
Algeria, Gabon and Ghana are in the three countries in hunt to be chosen on Wednesday to take over as hosts of the 2017 African Nations Cup finals from war-torn Libya when the Confederation of African Football’s executive committee votes.
Thanks to his position on the CAF Executive Committee, Nyantakyi has managed to get the Ghana bid team to lobby all the 14 members of the powerful ahead of the meeting in Cairo in the afternoon where their presentation will be heard.
Since last night Nyantakyi and the Ghana bid team have spent time with the CAF Exco members trying to convince them of the need to pick the country ahead of their two other competitors who are also desperately seeking the right to host the tourney.
His position on the CAF Exco has helped Ghana to gain the leverage to convince the voters even though Gabon are favourites to land the rights to host the competition thanks to their intensive lobbying of CAF’s top hierarchy over the past three months.
Despite Ghana’s strong case to land the hosting rights, Gabon are the strongest favourites to be handed the massive opportunity because they have spent the past few months travelling and meeting executives to tell them of their plans.
All three countries, which have previously hosted the tournament, have sent ministerial delegations to deliver last-minute presentations to the committee before the vote.
“We are up against some tough contenders but we think we have a good chance,” Gabon Football Federation president Pierre-Alain Mounguengui told reporters.
Gabon, the favourites to win the vote, co-hosted the 2012 finals with neighbours Equatorial Guinea.
Ghana hosted the finals in 1963, 1978 and 2008 and co-hosted in 2000 with Nigeria as late replacements when Zimbabwe was stripped of the right to hold the event.
Algeria hosted the tournament in 1990 when they won their only continental title.
Libya, where a civil war has brought all football to a halt, withdrew last year from staging the finals.
CAF will also conduct the draw for the qualifying competition on Wednesday.
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