Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Issa Hayatou has arrived in Addis Ababa where he will be aiming to secure an eighth term at the head of the continental governing body.
Hayatou’s sole challenger Ahmad Ahmad, the Madagascar Football Association head, has also touched down in Ethiopia’s capital with the election due to take place on Thursday (March 16) as part of CAF’s 39th Ordinary General Assembly at African Union headquarters.
The vote will take place amid troubling times for CAF, which along with Hayatou and secretary general Hicham El Amrani has been referred to the Egyptian Economic Court by the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) and the public prosecutor for financial and commercial affairs.
The charges against the Cairo-based CAF, Hayatou and El Amrani relate to a broadcast rights deal with Lagardère Sports, which the company were allegedly given without a formal tender process as required by Egyptian law.
CAF accused the ECA of conducting a "trial by media", claiming the referral of the case was made "following only a few days of investigations and without any communication or engagement whatsoever with the CAF".
They have labelled the charges as "unsubstantiated", "groundless" and "without merit" and have vowed to "vigorously defend its position, its rights and reputation using all legal means available under international law".
The accusations and the subsequent case only heighten the pressure on 70-year-old Hayatou, an honorary International Olympic Committee member, as he prepares for arguably the toughest challenge to his Presidency he has ever faced.
Ahmad is gaining support within the CAF membership and it is thought the election will be close.
"I am happy I am finally in Addis Ababa," Ahmad told SuperSport, a South African group of television channels.
"We have waited for this moment and we want to conclude the elections on Thursday so that Africa can revert back to football.
"I am hoping for good tidings as I have campaigned efficiently."
A total of 500 participants, including those from CAF member countries and well-known football players, are expected at the General Assembly which will serve as a celebration of CAF’s 60th anniversary.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino is due to arrive today, accompanied by world football’s governing body’s secretary general Fatma Samoura.
Former Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o, a four-time African Footballer of the Year, is advocating for a change at the head of CAF.
While the ex-Barcelona and Inter Milan forward says Hayatou has made a huge contribution to African football over his 29 years at the helm, he wants the body to make way for new reforms to be brought in.
"No institution resists the laws of cycles and change," Eto’o, who currently plays his club football for Turkish outfit Antalyaspor, told Jeune Afrique.
"I just hope that these changes will help African football to evolve, because it is the most important.
"The development of CAN (the Africa Cup of Nations) has improved infrastructure, and that is important.
"But the main beneficiaries of these changes must be players, especially those in Africa.
"We should bring more freshness to open up other horizons, without denying what has been done.
"These changes could prolong and improve what has been accomplished.
"Look at FIFA; the arrival of Gianni Infantino in the Presidency has reignited innovation.
"Trying to do something else at the head of CAF is not a bad idea."
Ethiopian Football Federation President Juneidin Basha told the Ethiopian News Agency that the General Assembly will allow the country to attract more attention from CAF members in its bid to host the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations.