Confederation of African Football president Issa Hayatou will face a rare challenge on Thursday as he stands for an eighth term at the helm of the African game when CAF hold their Congress in the Ethiopian capital.

Ahmad, a Madagascan government minister who uses a single name, will contest Thursday’s vote and is only the third challenger Hayatou has faced since he became CAF president in 1988.

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The other opponents — Armando Machado of Angola in 2000 and Ismail Bhamjee of Botswanain 2004 — were roundly beaten.

However, Ahmad is the first to have received expressions of support from among CAF member countries, including the grouping of 14 southern African countries (COSAFA) and Nigeria.

Hayatou and his opponent have waged a lively election campaign over the last two months, featuring an unusually high number of public pronouncements for a process that is traditionally played out behind closed doors.