March 4 - Acting Asian Football Confederation (AFC) head Zhang Jilong has decided not to run for the permanent AFC Presidency, leaving four other candidates in the running to take over Mohammed Bin Hammam's former role.
"I made this decision totally out of my own will and with careful thinking," Zhang told Chinese Government news agency Xinhua.
"I am really honoured that I was entrusted with the caretaker job while AFC was in its most difficult time.
"I am happy that I did my part to maintain the stability of AFC and my job has been done
"It is time to elect a new leader for AFC."
Zhang has held the acting position since May 2011 when Bin Hammam was suspended and subsequently banned from all football activities by world governing body FIFA for bribery and corruption.
Zhang's decision not to run leaves four candidates in the race to become the new President, with United Arab Emirates football chief Yousuf Al Serkal, his Bahrain equivalent Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and Saudi Arabian official Hafez El Medlej all in contention from West Asia.
The sole contender from East Asia is Thailand Football Association chairman Worawi Makudi, accused by of demanding the television rights for a proposed friendly between England and Thailand in return for his vote by former FA chairman and head of England's 2018 World Cup bid Lord Triesman, amongst various other allegations.
Al Serkal has called for his competitors from West Asia to step aside to ensure that the controversial Makudi is not elected as President after the Association of South East Asia Nations (ASEAN), a subset of nations within the AFC, announced that they were unanimously in favour of Makudi, which would mean he would start with 12 votes.
The UAE football chief claims to have 70 per cent of the 13 votes from West Asia, but with 21 other votes up for grabs, going in behind Makudi would not be favourable for Al Serkal.
"From our zone if we have just one contestant that will be good," he said.
"It will be a good start for two candidates to the post.
"But with my relationship in different zones of Asia I can still win otherwise."
"I have served the AFC for 20 years now, it needs a person who has the experience," he added.
Representatives from West Asia have been summoned by Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, President of the West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) for a meeting this week to discuss their candidature.
"There's a meeting called by Prince Ali of Jordan on the sixth of this month," Al Serkal told Reuters.
"I don't know if there will be an agreement in the meeting, doesn't look like it.
"But I am hoping that if this meeting takes place, we can come up with a decision of fielding one contestant rather than three."
Contact the writer of this story at james[email protected]insidethegames.biz
February 2013: Disgraced Thai FA official put forward as candidate for Asian Football Confederation President