AFC to elect new leader in May congress

Updated 31 January 2013
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AFC to elect new leader in May congress

SINGAPORE: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will elect a new president at an extraordinary congress in May, the regional body said on Thursday, almost 18 months after former head Mohammed Bin Hammam was first suspended by FIFA.
The AFC said the winning candidate from the May 2 election in Kuala Lumpur will hold the post until 2015, as opposed to the normal four-year term.
Nominations for the position opened on Thursday and will close on March 3, with United Arab Emirates (UAE) Football Association head and AFC vice-president Yousuf Yaqoob Yousuf and acting AFC president Zhang Jilong expected to run.
One man who won’t be running is FIFA vice-president Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein.
“I have no intention to run for AFC president in this election. look forward to a transparent and proper election,” the Jordanian royal tweeted in response to Reuters.
“I also look forward to candidates with clear football programs that outline how Asian football will rise to its full potential.” The AFC will also hold elections for a FIFA executive committee member position on a four-year term until 2017, a female AFC vice-president and two female AFC executive committee members to serve until 2015.
The AFC have been under the rule of Jilong since Bin Hammam was suspended during his failed bid to become FIFA president in July 2011, six months after he was sworn in unopposed for a third and final four-year term as head of the AFC.
The ugly episode dragged on as Bin Hammam battled to clear his name amid allegations that he tried to bribe officials in the election race against incumbent Sepp Blatter.


Essam El-Hadary set to make history as Hector Cuper plays down Egypt criticism

Updated 5 min 27 sec ago
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Essam El-Hadary set to make history as Hector Cuper plays down Egypt criticism

VOLGOGRAD: Essam El-Hadary looks set to become the oldest footballer to play at a World Cup today when his Egypt side face Saudi Arabia in their last match of the tournament. Although coach Hector Cuper refused to reveal his line-up, the selection of El-Hadary to appear alongside him in the pre-match press conference yesterday suggests the goalkeeper is in line to break Faryd Mondragon’s four-year-old record.
“Obviously I would be very happy if I participate in the match, but this is not certain,” said El-Hadary, who is 45 years, five months and 12 days old today.
“This decision, though, remains with the management of the team.”
With both Egypt and Saudi Arabia unable to usurp Uruguay and Russia in Group A for a place in the knockout stages, the match is a dead rubber. That has led to much speculation that Cuper, who had preferred Al-Ahly’s Mohammed El-Shenawy in their opening two defeats, might make a sentimental gesture by selecting Saudi Arabia-based El-Hadary.
If he plays, El-Hadary will comfortably beat the record of Colombia’s Mondragon, who made a substitute appearance in Brazil four years ago aged 43 years and three days.
“Obviously for any player to be involved, especially in a World Cup, is a high achievement. Even if it is a record set by myself, Essam El-Hadary, it will also be an achievement for Egypt,” said the Al-Taawoun goalkeeper, who made his debut for Egypt 22 years ago.
Egypt’s preparation for today’s match with the Green Falcons has been carried under a cloud of speculation after rumors emerged that players — including El-Hadary — had clashed with Cuper. Both coach and keeper dismissed such suggestions, with the Argentine manager insisting that he would not entertain questions unless evidence could be provided. El-Hadary added: “If I was making trouble in the team then I don’t deserve to be in the team.”
The final Group A match against Saudi Arabia offers both teams a chance to finish their respective World Cup campaigns on a positive note. While Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side lost 5-0 on the opening night to the hosts and were narrowly beaten 1-0 by Uruguay, Egypt endured similar defeats in reverse, losing in the last minute to the South Americans
before being made to pay for a period of poor concentration against Russia to lose 3-1.
Egypt, making their first appearance on the world stage since 1990, are chasing a first World Cup win. While Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah is expected to be passed fit having featured in the Pharaohs’ last game, Cuper was coy when asked if he would ring the changes. He has used only 14 players across 180 minutes of football so far.
“For us, this is an important match because we want to end this participation in the World Cup with a good result,” he said.
“We’re playing for all the people in Egypt and want to give them joy. We want to end this World Cup with a triumph, even though this might be only a footnote in the future. For Egypt to win a first World Cup match would be something very important. What we want to do, then, is bow out in style in the next match.”
Cuper, who may also be bowing out of his time at the Egypt helm after today’s match, has come in for criticism in recent weeks. The 62-year-old, however, insists he is not listening to the critics and is focused on the job.
“Somebody who’s a critic is a critic, that’s his job,” Cuper said. “It’s very difficult to convince everyone. I want to convince my players, link up with them in a way that brings results.
“Criticism really doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t anger me. We have to see individually what our reality is. You look at it, analyze the situation, then you choose a certain line of action to achieve results. But making everybody happy? It’s impossible.”