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'Iron Duke' wants Sascoc presidency

Irvin Khoza has emerged as a shock contender for Sascoc's top job.

The Iron Duke, Irvin Khoza. Picture: Sapa

CAPE TOWN - The chairman of the Premier Soccer League, Irvin Khoza, has emerged as a shock contender for the Presidency of South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc).

The governing body of sports announced the names of candidates on Wednesday night with Khoza emerging as the sole challenger to current president Gideon Sam.

Khoza's candidacy comes as a surprise to Sam, particularly after the recent success of the Olympic team in London.

The man nicknamed the Iron Duke does not lack leadership credentials and is already the chairperson of the Orlando Pirates football club and the Premier Soccer League as well as a vice president of SAFA.

He also led the 2010 FIFA World Cup Local Organising Committee.

Sam may feel he is in a relatively strong position after SA's most successful Olympics since readmission in 1992.

But he told Eyewitness News he has welcomed Irvin Khoza's challenge for the post.

"The elective conference of Sascoc - that decision must be left to those voting. If I sit around and ask why anyone is standing against me, we'll then have a situation where we've got presidents for life and I don't think that's good for South African sport."

Among those looking to usurp Hajera Kajee and Les Williams as vice presidents is the current president of Swimming South Africa, Jace Naidoo, as well as president of the South African Football Association Kirsten Nematandani.

The commissioner of golf's Sunshine Tour, Selwyn Nathan, South African Rugby Deputy President Mark Alexander, sports professor Tim Noakes and champion wheelchair racer Ernst van Dyk are among 25 names which have all been short-listed for five positions on the board.

Sam said that the challenge throughout the hierarchy will only benefit Sascoc.

"You'll see we are challenged from the vice president to the bottom, now 25 people are contesting five positions and nine people are contesting two positions, for me that's good. It's a good thing for sport."

At the London Games this year SA won three gold medals, two silvers and a bronze, but that is well short of the 12 medals targeted by Sam four years ago.

The elections are held every four years and the elected president's main task will be to deliver more success at the Rio Games in 2016.

It will take place on the 24th of November at Sascoc House in Johannesburg.