November 16 – There are now just 50 days to go to the kick-off of the AFC’s blue riband Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
The 2019 Asian Cup will be played in eight stadia in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai and Sharjah.
It is the first time the tournament has been played with 24 teams – up from 16 – and for a record $15 million in prize money. It will also see the introduction of VAR into AFC competition for the first time from the quarter final stages.
Asian nations are taking the opportunity of the international fixture window to prepare for the tournament with a series of cross confederation friendlies.
Australia have two intriguing matches lined up against fellow finalists Lebanon and traditional AFC powerhouse South Korea.
While two of Europe’s biggest management names are also fine-tuning their preparations. Sven Goran-Ericksson has taken charge of the Philippines while Marcelo Lippi, World Cup winner with Italy in 2006, is moulding an ambitious but so far under-performing China.
The UAE last hosted the Asian Cup 22 years ago. This time round the country has committed significant resource to the expanded tournament and is reporting a number of group games as already being sold out.
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