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Mussenden confident ahead of election

Election time: BFA president Larry Mussenden hopes to beome the new Concacaf president

Larry Mussenden is confident he can win today’s Concacaf presidential election despite some suggestions that the vote is too close to call.

His mood has probably been helped by the fact that he received the endorsement of the Caribbean Football Union executive committee yesterday.

While the committee do not cast a vote, their opinions are likely to carry significant weight behind the scenes in the final hours before the secret ballot, which is due to take place around 2pm Bermuda time.

“I feel very confident as a result of today’s meeting, but I still take nothing for granted,” Mussenden said yesterday. “I still have work to do, I’m going to work right up until tomorrow.”

The election is likely to come down to just a handful of the 41 votes up for grabs, with several countries already making it known who they support.

Victor Montagliani, Mussenden’s rival, has the backing of several Caribbean nations, plus the United States and a claim to the support of the Central American nations, although none have expressed that support publicly.

Mussenden meanwhile has eight Caribbean nations at his side, and was given the opportunity to sway the doubters during the CFU meeting.

Emphasising his connections to the CFU, Mussenden, a former CFU vice-president, and president of a CFU country, hopes that, along with his pledge to work for the betterment of Concacaf as a whole, will be enough to get him the support he needs.

“I went over the merits of electing me as president, why I felt I was the best candidate, and that I was going to be committed to working with everybody in Concacaf,” he said.

“I feel I can do a very good job for everybody, and that was well received in the meeting.”

The main order of business at the Concacf Congress in Mexico City this morning, the election also occupied a fair amount of time at yesterday’s gathering.

During a sometimes fractious 3½-hour affair, the merits of Mussenden’s candidacy and that of Montagliani were discussed at length, among other things.

Hanging over those discussions were the ghosts of presidents past, specifically Jack Warner and Jeffrey Webb, both of whom have been charged as part of the United States Department of Justice investigation into Fifa.

Webb and Warner enjoyed the almost unanimous backing of the CFU, and it is a mistake some are loathed to repeat.

“There is a feeling that the CFU don’t want to be bullied into all voting for one person,” a person who attended the meeting said.

“There is a determination to have a free vote. I wouldn’t say it [the CFU] is split down the middle, but it might all depend on what inroads Larry makes into Uncaf, [Central American Football Federation] and Nafu [North American Football Union], and similarly what inroads Victor has made into the CFU.”

Those sentiments were echoed by several Caribbean nations, although one delegate said that what was “said in the meeting today is not necessarily what will happen tomorrow.”

There was plenty of support for Mussenden too in the meeting, with Cayman Islands, Trinidad, and St Vincent among seven nations who pledged their support

Mussenden also felt that the endorsement from the CFU executive could only be a positive thing and would not be seen as an attempt to force other nations to vote one way, or another.

“I think we have turned a corner and countries are free to vote for whoever they wish,” Mussenden said. “The CFU executive decided that because there was a CFU candidate running, then I would get the endorsement.”

Both Mussenden and Montagliani will have an opportunity to make a final pitch for votes this morning when they will be given ten minutes each to address the Concacaf Congress.

There turn will come after that of Gianni Infantino, the Fifa president, who will open the Congress around 10am Bermuda time.