KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 (Xinhua) -- Asian Football Confederation (AFC) acting president Zhang Jilong from China on Wednesday urged the governing body to stay united to "restore glory" for the confederation, just weeks before a crucial election to elect the new leadership.
"AFC has really suffered in the recent past and it is our duty to restore it back to its health and glory. We are the guardians of Asian football and we should be seen as shining examples of honesty, integrity, and transparency," Zhang told the AFC Executive Committee.
Chairing the AFC Executive Committee meeting for the last time as its interim boss, Zhang said he was proud for the achievement that AFC attained under his watch.
"I am really honored that I was entrusted with the caretaker job while the AFC was in its most difficult period. I am happy that I did my part to maintain the stability of AFC," he said, according to a news release published on AFC's official portal.
"I can rightly look back with pride at all our achievements and our strong determination to move forward and turn over a new page," added Zhang.
Zhang took the reins in June 2011 after former AFC president Mohamed bin Hammam was banned from football activities over bribery accusations which he denies.
Zhang confirmed earlier this month that he will not run for leadership election during the AFC Extraordinary Congress in May, stressed that the decision was made "totally out of his own will and with careful thinking."
He will stay on as senior vice president of AFC.
Explaining his decision to step aside, Zhang said Wednesday that he hope his withdrawal from the election would "reduce the tension and bring more unity to Asian football."
"My job is done. It is time for the AFC to elect a new leadership." He said.
Shaikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa from Bahrain is considered leading the race for AFC presidency. He is also running for the job of FIFA Executive Committee member. His rival including Worawi Makudi of Thailand, Hafez Ibrahim Al Medlej of Saudi Arabia and Yousuf Al Serkal from Saudi Arabia.