Stand-in Asian chief takes office

Kuala Lumpur: China`s Zhang Jilong urged the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to look ahead as he took up his duties as stand-in chief after its president was suspended over alleged bribes.

Zhang told staff to work together as he started work at Kuala Lumpur`s AFC House, less than two weeks after world body FIFA barred Mohamed bin Hammam while it probes vote-buying claims.

"We are all united and focused on taking Asian football ahead. We have to work together to meet the challenges and ensure that Asian football continues to move forward," Zhang said in a message posted on the AFC website.

Former Chinese Football Association president Zhang, 59, served on the FIFA organising committees for the last two World Cups. He was also director of sports during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The AFC senior vice president`s appointment as acting chief was automatic under the body`s rules when Qatar`s bin Hammam was suspended on May 30.

Bin Hammam strongly denies bribing delegates ahead of this month`s FIFA presidential election, when he was standing against long-time leader Sepp Blatter but eventually withdrew.

Bureau Report

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