Football: Sheikh Salman set to win AFC presidency unopposed

SINGAPORE (REUTERS) - Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain is poised to retain his position as head of Asian football for another four years, after no one decided to oppose him at next month's Asian Football Confederation (AFC) elections.

Along with the AFC presidency, he will also secure himself a term as vice-president of soccer's world governing body Fifa, replacing Prince Ali Al Hussein, who is challenging Sepp Blatter for the Fifa presidency.

Sheikh Salman was elected AFC president two years ago, replacing Qatari Mohamed Hammam, who was banned for life by soccer's world governing body in 2011 amid allegations of trying to buy votes.

The next AFC elections will take place in Bahrain on April 30 but Sheikh Salman is already assured of the top job after he was the only candidate when the AFC announced their final nominations on Wednesday.

A more interesting battle is looming for the AFC's three Fifa executive committee members. There are seven candidates, including two of the incumbents, Thailand's Worawi Makudi and China's Zhang Jilong.

The others include Saud Al Mohannadi, the vice-president of the Qatar Football Association, which is making another attempt to get an official elected onto Fifa's all-powerful executive committee ahead of their hosting of the 2022 World Cup.

Qatar has suffered relentless criticism since being awarded the right to host the World Cup for the first time in a 2010 vote and having a voice at Fifa's top table could help quieten the backlash.

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, one of the most influential figures in world sport, is also in the running.

The Kuwaiti is the head of the Olympic Council of Asia and the Association of National Olympic Committees but does not have a formal role with the AFC or Fifa.

If successful, Sheikh Ahmad, a strong supporter of Blatter and International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, would emerge as a key link between the two organisations with Blatter set to lose his IOC position in 2016 when he turns 80.