Little known Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar is the new football leader for Africa after he defeated long-serving president Issa Hayatou of Cameroon during the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) election held here Thursday.

Ahmad defeated Hayatou by 34 votes to 20. Hayatou has helmed the CAF for 29 years and has often been re-elected unopposed. On Thursday, however, he was forced to bow out of the CAF hierarchy after losing the Madagascar Football Association Chairman.

Ahmad, a former a football player and coach, had campaigned on a platform of administrative reform, financial transparency and potential re-organization of CAF competitions.

He also vowed to fight for gender recognition in soccer in Africa, focus on youth competitions and have a new format for the Africa Cup of Nations, the continent’s top tournament, among his key plans. Ahmad managed to win the election with the support of delegations from member countries of the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA), Central Africa and North African states.

The CAF has had only five presidents in its 60-year history and the last time a new leader was elected was way back in 1988 when Issa Hayatou took over. Hayatou has reigned over African football ever since, refusing to give up power despite a kidney transplant in 2015.

His controversies have included being accused by a Britain newspaper of taking money in exchange for backing Qatar to win the right to host the 2022 World Cup.

The departure of Hayatou is seen as presaging a huge change for African football and the 70-year-old will automatically lose his positions at the sport’s world governing body, FIFA. Hayatou had been praised for bringing in sponsorship money to African tournaments and increasing Africa’s slots at the World Cup.