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Beleagured Hatimy seeks the biggest prize

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NAIROBI, Kenya, October 28- Football Kenya Limited (FKL) boss, Mohammed Hatimy has been on record dismissing young leadership as the cure for the country’s football but few would grieve if his reign came to an end on Saturday.

As one of the high profile candidates running for the top post in Football Kenya (FK) at Saturday’s elections, Hatimy is the embodiment of the status quo having been involved in management for decades.

“The election of new people to run football has been the cause of all the problems our football has deteriorated for ages. I’m offering myself for election so that I can finish the job I started which has been interrupted by wrangles,” the businessman and nominated civic leader asserted.

Since assuming control of FKL in 2007 following his bruising battle with former aide, Sam Nyamweya, Hatimy has not had a moment of rest, his tenure challenged at the highest international court in sport, the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

With the backing of world governing body, Fifa, Hatimy, the soft spoken man who shuns the limelight like a plague was able to weather local and international litigation to finally reign over the country’s football for the last three years, having been the vice-chairman of Kenya Football Federation prior to.

“If you remember well, Fifa decided that FKL should take charge of football after wrangles persisted and that’s when I took over as the interim chairman though, I was not elected to the position that is why I want a clean so that I can lead football as an elected chairman given the full mandate by the delegates,” he told SuperSport.com.

However, his rule over the country’s football will be remembered for the country’s slide down the Fifa rankings to the current position of 135 and as a yardstick through with nations are measured in the game, this represents the biggest blot to his campaign.

The Mombasa based administrator definitely knows his way around the murky set-up of Kenyan football as one of the chief engineers of the current order.

As the 1,548 voting delegates brace to cast their ballots on Saturday Hatimy appears to be on the last throes of his reign after Fifa withdrew their much needed support despite half of the voters being drawn from clubs aligned to his FKL.

The backing from the world body is said to be now vested on his rival and Gor Mahia chairman, Ambrose Rachier who accused Hatimy on Wednesday of sabotaging his club to discredit his campaign.

A schemer per excellence, Hatimy made the fatal judgement of throwing his weight behind the failed campaign of Bahraini national, Mohammed Bin Hammam for the Fifa top post in July, a move that saw the Zurich mandarins led by president Sepp Blatter respond by discarding their erstwhile point man in East Africa.

It is telling that Rachier only announced his candidature later in July, a full seven months after the starting gun for the FK campaign was fired.

Two other candidates for the chairmanship, Twaha Mubarak and Esther Shako also hail from the Coast, thereby splitting the region’s vote in another ominous sign for the beleaguered Hatimy.

Incidentally, Mubarak was his bitter rival, Sam Nyamweya’s vice-chair at KFF and although he appears to have severed ranks with his boss, intrigues of Kenyan football could come into play with the formers’ candidature hatched to cut Hatimy to size in his backyard.

On Friday, it was reported that his co-director at FKL, Titus Kasuve who has stood by his side through the proverbial thick and thin, had ditched him for the Nyamweya camp, a further blow for his aspirations.

“I want to concentrate on three things in particular. Consolidate and enhance the youth structures, improve the standards of referees and coaches in the country this are the core issues in my manifesto,” Hatimy continued in his SuperSport.com interview.

Besides mismanagement, allegations of embezzlement of football funds from Fifa and gate collections from Harambee Stars matches in addition to receiving bribes to sway the vote at Fifa elections continue to dog his tenure at the helm.

Few would believe him having had the chance to shape the future of the game but as a wily operator, he cannot be counted out just yet.

HATIMY CAMPAIGN KEY POINTS

– Enhancing youth structures
– Improve refereeing standards
– Improve coaching standards
– Eliminate politics from football
– Bring administration wrangles to an end

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