Shaikh Salman: Asia is united

Addressing an AFC delegation on Thursday, the Bahraini royal asserted that the AFC is more united than ever before after a turbulent few years.

“My mission has been to engender unity among member associations. I believe that in the last two years we have achieved a unity not seen before in Asian football. We are closer than at any other time in our history," said Shaikh Salman.

“We have achieved a lot in a short space of time but there is much more to do. It is not easy to take over a confederation in the midst of turbulence and to stabilise it."

Shaikh Salman once again underlined the AFC's support for current FIFA president Sepp Blatter ahead of the upcoming FIFA elections, but support for Blatter was not unanimous, with delegates from South Korea in particular believed to have been unhappy with the manner in which matters relating to the election were handled at the AFC congress.

Despite this Shaikh Salman had only good things to say to Blatter in his closing: "Dear President, rest assured the Asian football family stands firmly behind you as the AFC member associations decided in Sao Paulo last year."

However, with many Asian nations struggling on the pitch, Shaikh Salman praised the arrival of former Scotland manager Andy Roxburgh who has been appointed the new technical director of Asian football.

Shaikh Salman asserted that Roxburgh had been tasked with "improving the quality of coaching across the region to develop quality players."

The AFC president added that numerous steps had been taken over the past few years in an attempt to strengthen Asian football.

“Our competitions are now better, more inclusive, and more attractive. Intensive study and discussion led to these improvements to our flagship national team and club competitions," he explained.
“In 2014 we also launched three new Initiatives for Asian Football – mini-pitches, funding for national youth teams and the AFC Expert Pool of specialists. These were all created to complement the AFC Kick Off programme for clubs and leagues and to provide tailor-made development solutions for the AFC Member Associations.”