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AFC President Sheikh Salman faces challenge for presidency in April election

Sheikh Salman, left, tried to win the FIFA presidency but has since refocused on accumulating soft power in the Asian Football Confederation.
Sheikh Salman was first elected AFC president in 2013.

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Sheikh Salman bin Khalifa faces a challenge as the head of the continent's ruling soccer body with two candidates putting themselves forward for next April's election.

AFC Vice President Saoud A Aziz M A Al-Mohannadi of Qatar and Executive Committee member Mohamed Khalfan Matar Saeed Alromaithi from the United Arab Emirates had lodged their candidacies to challenge Sheikh Salman, the AFC said on Saturday.

An expected challenge from Saudi Arabia Football Federation's former President Adel Ezzat did not materialise. Ezzat had said in 2017 he would stand against Sheikh Salman in the 2019 elections.

Ezzat's hopes of a building a power base were apparently hurt in October by the decision of members of the South Asian Football Federation to withdraw from the Saudi-created South West Asian Football Federation.

Sheikh Salman said in October he would be seeking a third term in office. He was first elected AFC president in 2013 to complete the term of disgraced former president Mohammed bin Hammam.

Bin Hammam was banned for life by FIFA, the game's governing body, in 2011 and the AFC was led by interim president Zhang Jilong until Sheikh Salman's successful election. The Bahraini was re-elected to his post in 2015.

The AFC President also holds a Vice-President post at world governing body FIFA.

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