Zhang Jilong, acting Asian Football Confederation president. (Getty Images)

Acting AFC Chief Wants Permanent Role 

Acting president Zhang Jilong says he’s ready and willing to take complete charge of the Asian Football Confederation from ousted AFC chief Mohammed Bin Hammam.
“I am interested in becoming president permanently on the condition that I am recognised by all my friends and brothers on the executive committee, as well as the other 46 members’ association,” Zhang was quoted Thursday by the South China Morning Post.
“We need to be one family, as brothers, for we are on one boat sailing towards the future. If I become president permanently, I wish to work for the solidarity and development of Asian football.”
Zhang’s comments followed a meeting of nearly 20 AFC officials in Macau reportedly attended by the “anti-Hammam” faction within the confederation.
Bin Hammam of Qatar is awaiting an appeals decision from the Court of Arbitration for Sport after receiving a lifetime ban from football last year for bribery in his bid to replace Sepp Blatter as FIFA president.
CAS already turned down his attempt to block Zhang’s appointment as acting president, and AFC statutes dictate an election for a new leader to replace Bin Hammam be held should CAS not deliver a decision by May.

FIFA Takes Match-Fixing Sanctions Worldwide

FIFA has extended worldwide sanction to 26 players, coaches and officials following match-fixing investigations – and ensuing national sanctions – by the Turkish Football Federation and Football Association of Finland.
“FIFA’s commitment to tackling match-fixing is unwavering. The decisions of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee demonstrate our determination to protect the foundation of sport and fair play, showing zero tolerance to those who do not share FIFA’s ethos,” FIFA secretary general Jérôme Valcke said Thursday.
“We hope these decisions send a clear message around the world. If you do not play by the rules, you will be punished.”
A full 24 of the 26 – including six lifetime bans, four bans of three years, two bans of two-and-a-half years, six bans of two years and six further bans of one year – stem
from Turkey’s infamous “Bochum” case of last year with the remaining two – both two-year bans – coming from Finland.

Africa Cup of Nations Final Set

Didier Drogba of Chelsea fame celebrates Ivory Coast’s win. (CAF)

Africa Cup of Nations favourites Ivory Coast have booked a place in Sunday’s final.

A comfortable 1-0 win over Mali on Wednesday sends the Elephants through to play Zambia at Stade de l ’Amities in Libreville, Gabon.
Zambia booked their berth earlier Wednesday with a shock 1-0 defeat of Ghana in Bata, Equatorial Guinea.
The Black Stars will meet Mali in Malabo on Saturday to decide third and fourth place.

By INSIDER’s Matthew Grayson

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