KUALA LUMPUR: Just because he decided not to contest the AFC election, former acting president Zhang Jilong has no intention of stepping down altogether.
China’s Zhang, in his departure speech before the election of Sheikh Salman, reviewed with pride his difficult two years after the defenestration of Mohamed Bin Hammam in the summer of 2011.
Zhang told AFC Congress: “I can go back to my role as the Senior Vice-President with dignity. I can go back a happy man, knowing that I have done my best for Asian football. Asian football has a great future and I am happy that I have played my part in making that happen.”
Describing the last two years as one of the most ‘challenging’ in the AFC’s history, Zhang noted the success of Asian teams in international tournaments and highlighted positive achievements in the field of development.
He said: “Japan won the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2011 and the silver medal at the Olympics.
“Korea Republic won bronze in the 2012 London Olympics, Japan women’s team won and our junior women’s teams have made us proud in FIFA competitions. Asian teams are now regarded as title contenders in world events.
“Another notable achievement I would like to mention here today is the security of our financial position. This directly affects our operations capability and I am pleased that we are working closely with our marketing partners the World Sport Group to maintain our financial viability.
“Our finances are healthy and we should take pride in this fact because we have exercised prudence.
“Under the Asian Financial Assistance Programme, there has been a marked increase in the development funds available for the Member Associations and this will accelerate the football development activities at the Member Associations level.
“On the development front, we are progressing steadily and 2013 has been designated as Grassroots Year. We have also launched the Kick-Off programme and this is getting a great response.”