March 20 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s Hafez Al Medlej is considering stepping down from the AFC presidential election race and lending his support to United Arab Emirate candidate Yousuf Al Serkal, local media reported.
The duo are currently campaigning ahead of the Asian Football Confederation elections on May 2 in Malaysia with Bahraini Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa and Thailand’s Worawi Makudi also challenging for the leadership of Asian soccer.
“I might withdraw in favour of Al Serkal,” Al Medlej was quoted as saying by the Gulf News.
“He is the favourite to win the elections and there is complete mutual understanding, agreement and co-ordination between the UAE and Saudi Arabia in this regard.”
Al Medlej and Al Serkal both attended a West Asian Football Federation meeting earlier this month hosted by Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Al Hussein where the 13 members tried to decide on one candidate.
Al Khalifa did not attend as he was campaigning in East Asia but sent a Bahraini FA official to the meeting. It is unlikely he will step down from the race.
Al Serkal told Reuters last month that he was the favoured candidate from the region and had ‘a minimum of 70 percent support from the zone’.
The UAE candidate and currently one of four AFC vice presidents said he would travel to Switzerland to meet FIFA head Sepp Blatter next week to seek his support.
“Blatter has a great influence in the AFC elections,” Al Serkal told the Gulf Times.
“I will tell him about my plans to develop the game in Asia and fight corruption. Everything is prepared for the visit and I am optimistic I will have the support of the world football governing body.” (Reporting by Patrick Johnston in Singapore, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)