KUALA LUMPUR: The Asian football confederation has decided to go ahead with presidential elections next spring even though it is still tip-toeing through a legal minefield writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

A tense week of meetings reached a climax at AFC headquarters in Malaysia when the executive committee decided that it was time to choose a ‘real’ president after 18 months under the acting leadership of China’s Zhang Jilong.

This was not a slight to Zhang but the AFC has been in increasingly urgent need of a president with full powers ever since Qatari Bin Hammam was banned for life by FIFA in the summer of 2011. He responded by taking on both the AFC and FIFA in the courts and his challenges continue.

The tension is likely to be ramped up still further by the end of next week if FIFA prosecutor Michael J Garcia decided to take formal action over allegations that Bin Hammam misused AFC funds – claims Bin Hammam has denied repeatedly.

In the meantime the AFC has voted to go ahead with a presidential election  ‘subject to recommendations and advice of the AFC Legal Committee’ with a decision due by mid-January. Candidates are likely to include Zhang Bahraini FA president Sheikh Salman and AFC vice-president Yousuf Al Serkal from the UAE.

Zhang have notice of his own will to carry on when he followed the AFC exco meeting by saying: “Under my caretaker leadership, I promised a new vision for AFC. I committed myself to a new era of transparency and I am confident that with your support I will be able to deliver this objective,” Zhang told AFC members on Thursday.

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