Sexwale, Toure eye major honors


JOHANNESBURG — African glory-seekers this year include South African Tokyo Sexwale, who wants to be FIFA president, and Ivorian Yaya Toure, bidding for an unprecedented fifth straight Confederation of African Football (CAF) Footballer of the Year title. Another off-field event certain to capture the attention of a continent in which soccer is the dominant sport will be the 2018 World Cup groups draw with 20 African teams eyeing five places in Russia. Along with two World Cup gamedays, there will be four rounds of Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, the African Nations Championship and the Champions League and Confederation Cup club competitions. AFP Sport sets the scene for an African soccer schedule that kicks off on January 7 with the CAF awards and could last until Dec. 18 if the CAF champions reach the Club World Cup final.

FIFA Presidency Apartheid-era political prisoner cum business tycoon Sexwale hopes to succeed disgraced Sepp Blatter and become president of scandal-ridden FIFA after February 26 elections in Zurich. Bahraini Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, Jordanian Prince Ali Al Hussein, Swiss Gianni Infantino and Frenchman Jerome Champagne are the other challengers for the task of cleaning up the world soccer body. Highlight of the Sexwale manifesto is a call for the ban on sponsors’ names appearing on national team shirts to be scrapped, which could greatly boost the income of cash-strapped associations. CAF Awards Manchester City midfielder Toure is favored to win a record-extending fifth consecutive CAF Footballer of the Year title in the Nigerian capital Abuja. Other stars shortlisted for the award are Gabon and Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ghana and Swansea City midfielder Andre ‘Dede’ Ayew. Toure, 32, was voted BBC African Footballer of the Year last month and made the Ballon d’Or World Footballer of the Year and FIFPro World Team of the Year lists.