Football: Struggling Wilkins supports Prince Ali's Fifa bid

(REUTERS) - Jordan coach Ray Wilkins is convinced Prince Ali Al Hussein is the right man to clean up Fifa's tarnished image and the former England captain will be hoping the royal can reciprocate his support in a similarly tough battle.

The 58-year-old former Chelsea, Manchester United and AC Milan midfielder has struggled in his fourth months in charge of the West Asians, suffering six defeats and a draw in his opening friendly matches ahead of the Asian Cup.

Some have accused him of being too negative, with the side managing only one goal in the last five defeats as the shine has well and truly been rubbed off the high-profile appointment by Prince Ali, the Jordanian Football Association (JFA) president.

The 39-year-old royal has, like many Asians, a fondness for English football.

With a limited budget at the JFA, it was quite a coup to be able to pull in a highly experienced coach like Wilkins, who worked for many years as an assistant at Premier League Chelsea after managerial stints at Fulham and Queens Park Rangers.

It was Prince Ali's commitment to dragging up the professionalism of Jordanian and West Asian football that convinced Wilkins it was a challenge worth taking on.

The prince, a football fan and advocate of transparency, wants to become the first Asian head of Fifa and put forward plans to stand against Jerome Champagne and incumbent Sepp Blatter in May elections this week.

"I've been involved with Prince Ali now for five months, an upstanding young man, I've got to say a really, really nice young man," Wilkins was quoted as saying by Middle East media this week. "I support him. It's about time Blatter was challenged and I think everybody in world football is quite pleased that someone is now going to stand up and challenge this guy.

"This is right for him, it's right to put world football back on his tracks, and he's the man. He's very positive, he's very straight, he's down the line with what he says, he does.

"He has worked miracles in Jordan with the young players and their footballing ability... and he works very, very hard to make sure the younger people have a nice infrastructure in which to work in."

Prince Ali's hard work and desire to succeed means he has little tolerance for anything that comes up short. His beloved 'Al-Nashama' were one tie away from competing at last year's World Cup but were beaten 5-0 in an intercontinental play-off by South American heavyweights Uruguay.

However, it was still a remarkable achievement from the side to advance so far, helped by victories over Asian champions Japan and World Cup finalists Australia, despite having one of the weaker leagues in the region.

Despite the relative success, coaches have come and gone with steady frequency and Wilkins could be next if he fails to meet the previous quarter-final mark achieved by Jordan on their two Asian Cup finals appearances in 2004 and 2011.

He hopes will hinge on their Group D opener against 2007 winners Iraq - their expected rival for a runner-up berth in the group - on Monday, before matches against Palestine and Japan.

Prince Ali will be at the matches and is sure to be lobbying voters for election support. A defeat for Jordan in their opener in Newcastle will see Wilkins also trying to convince his paymasters that he remains the right man for the job.

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