Kuala Lumpur: Less than 24 hours before Thursday’s AFC presidential elections, UAE candidate Yousuf Al Sarkal looked relaxed, confident and brimming with high morale here.
“Everything is going our way. We have held meetings with many delegations and the responses were positive. I am happy to say that we earned additional votes, which were not with us in the first phase,” Al Sarkal said on Wednesday, but he refrained from disclosing whose votes he had successfully wooed.
Regarding reports that suggested Saudi Arabia and Qatar will not vote for him, Al Sarkal said: “These are only speculations from the other camp. There is complete cooperation and coordination between the UAE FA and its counterparts in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Both countries have confirmed publicly, many times, their support to us and I have no doubts about that.
“It will be a close contest between me and Shahikh Salman [Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, of Bahrain]. He said earlier that he will get the needed two thirds from the first round, but I say that is overconfidence. The new AFC President, I expect, will be decided by the simple majority.”
The AFC has 46 full members and, if the Congress allows Brunei to vote, they will become 47.
Al Sarkal added: “Really I have nothing to lose. Even in case I lose the presidency, I am still A Vice-President and Chairman of the UAE FA, where we have achieved many victories recently and we are still on our way to achieving more.
“The competition has turned not between myself and the other candidates, but between Al Sarkal and the Olympic Council of Asian (OCA) and I promise, if I win the elections, the first thing I will do will be to bring back unity to the AFC community. I believe that the advice of Peter Velappan, the former Secretary General of the AFC, is quite right from his vast experience in the Asian Football game.”
Meanwhile, Thai candidate Worawi Makudi has said he will not withdraw from the elections and that he has a good chance of winning.
“I have no intention of retiring from the race,” Makudi said late on Tuesday. “I came to Kuala Lumpur to win the AFC presidency. I have been working for that goal a long time and my campaign is going well.
“It is sad to see the elections have created a big divide in the continent’s football family and I do hope that, after the elections, whoever wins will work hard to bring back unity and harmony to the game’s fraternity.”