Mahdi backs Serkal for top AFC post

Mahdi Ali insists the UAE’s candidate at next month’s Asian Football Confederation (AFC) presidential election stands a “very good chance” of emerging from the vote victorious.

By Alex Leach

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Published: Tue 23 Apr 2013, 11:41 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 8:45 AM

Yousuf Yaqoob Al Serkal, who currently operates as the president of the UAE Football Association, is running against Bahrain’s Shaikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa, Dr Hafez Ibrahim Al Medlej, of Saudi Arabia, and Thailand’s Dato’ Worawi Makudi on May 2.

Al Serkal’s candidacy has been given a ringing endorsement as well by the country’s national team coach, who believes he has all the necessary credentials to conquer the competition and administrate Asian football affairs admirably.

Ali Al Nabooda and Mahdi Ali at the Audi Showroom in Dubai. — KT photo by Juidin Bernarrd

“He has a very good chance and we wish him all of the best,” said Ali, who was unveiled as a brand ambassador for Audi Dubai on Monday. “Our hearts and all of our prayers are with him and I hope that – on May 2nd – Yousuf Al Serkal is announced as the president of AFC. It would be a big achievement for the UAE and all Emiratis, UAE football and Yousuf Al Serkal as a person.”

An Al Serkal success story in nine day’s time would provide a timely fillip when there’s admittedly little else on an international level to occupy sporting minds here. Ali’s Gulf Cup heroes don’t play another competitive fixture until mid-October, when they travel to Hong Kong for their third Group E game in 2015 Asian Cup qualification.

But, the man who led his squad to regional recognition earlier this year isn’t particularly perturbed by a prolonged period of inactivity.

“This past year especially has been quite tight for the players,” Ali added. “They have played in qualification matches for the Olympics, the Olympics, the Gulf Cup and in the AFC Champions League for their clubs. “They have played a lot of games and the players need a break at this time, particularly as the schedule for the Etisalat Pro-League is very tight. The last day will be May 25th and – after that – Ramadan is coming, so it’s very difficult to get the players.”

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