Football - Thai Makudi gets headstart in AFC presidential race

Bahrain Football Association President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has joined the race for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) presidency but Thailand's Worawi Makudi seems to have a headstart on his rivals.

Reuters

The Bahraini's office told Reuters on Tuesday that he would be one of the candidates vying for 46 votes to succeed Mohamed bin Hammam.

Qatari bin Hammam was banned for life by FIFA for corruption and bribery and China's Zhang Jilong has held the role of AFC acting president since May 2011.

FIFA Executive Committee member Makudi looks to have stolen a march on his rivals for the May 2 election after securing the support of 11 South-East Asian countries on Monday.

Considered a bin Hammam ally, the Thai would be backed by the Football Federation of Australia as well, the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) said in a statement.

AFF President Sultan Ahmad said: "...we examined our unity and solidarity and have decided to be united in choosing a leader for Asia.

"I am sure Dato' Worawi Makudi will do everything he can to further the needs of the AFC and their member associations."

Worawi said he was "extremely honoured" with the nomination.

"I will do my utmost to serve the ASEAN family Members," he said.

"My main target as the AFC president would be to bring everybody together and to unite the Asian Football Confederation."

Zhang has not thrown his hat into the ring yet but is widely expected to join the fray by Sunday when the nomination deadline expires. He already has the backing of the Japan Football Association.

JFA vice president Kozo Tashima recently told Kyodo news agency that they would back Zhang in the election.

Saudi Arabia has named Hafez El Medle as its candidate, while UAE chief Yousuf Al Serkal is also in the running.

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