May 10 – The draw for the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 will take place tomorrow (Thursday) in Qatar, with the tournament itself set to kick off January 12.
Qatar stepped in at the last minute to host the Asian Cup which was successfully expanded in 2019 to 24 teams. The journey to the draw has been challenging with Qatar picking up the hosting at short notice after China pulled out following the country’s concerns over covid.
Qatar will be the first country to host the AFC’s showpiece championship for a third time. It will be the second major international national team championship in 13 months hosted by the Qataris following the 2022 World Cup last November/December.
The draw, which for the first time will be broadcast live. Will be held at the Katara Opera House in Doha and will feature stars of the game from the AFC’s five zones.
Hassan Al Haydos, who captained Qatar to a historic maiden triumph in the UAE in 2019, leads the line-up, which also includes two-time AFC Asian Footballer of the Year, Server Djeparov (Uzbekistan).
They will be joined by the world-renowned duo of Korea Republic legend Park Ji-sung, one of the most successful Asian footballers in history, and Australian legend Tim Cahill.
The draw will also showcase a trailblazing trio of women – Yoshimi Yamashita, Sun Wen and Maymol Rocky.
Yamashita became one of the first women to ever officiate at the men’s FIFA World Cup at thje Qatar 2022 World Cup. Sun, the former China PR captain who won both the Golden Ball and Golden Boot awards at the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 1999, is regarded as one of the game’s greatest ever players. Maymol, was the first captain of India’s women’s national team in 2017 and is the current head coach of their U20 women’s side, will also take the stage.
To see the Group Draw outcomes click here.
AFC General Secretary, Datuk Seri Windsor John, who will conduct the draw, said: “After just over three years of intense and thrilling action in the Qualifiers, all eyes will rightly be on the Final Draw that will take place on Thursday.
“The excitement to discover the fate of Asia’s finest is palpable and I am very confident that the AFC, along with the Qatar Football Association and the Local Organising Committee, will deliver a world-class event tomorrow.”
In the draw will be 20 of the 24 teams that lit up the UAE in 2019.
Tajikistan are making their finals debut and become the 36th AFC nation to qualify for the finals tournament. Indonesia, Hong Kong, China and Malaysia are all returning to the finals having not qualified for 2019. Indonesia and Malaysia last took part in 2007, while Hong Kong, China’s participation is their first since the fourth edition that took place in 1968.
The full list for the draw is as follows:
Pot 1: Qatar, Japan, Islamic Republic of Iran, Korea Republic, Australia, Saudi Arabia
Pot 2: Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Uzbekistan, China PR, Jordan
Pot 3: Bahrain, Syria, Palestine, Vietnam, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon
Pot 4: India, Tajikistan, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China and Indonesia
Iran and Korea Republic will each contesting their 15th AFC Asian Cup, two more than China PR, who are in the second pot for the draw. Iran have played the most games in Finals history with 68 and are also the only team to have lifted the trophy three times in a row (1968, 1972, 1976).
Japan are the tournament’s most successful side with four wins, and 2007 champions Iraq are the eighth and ninth teams to reach 10 AFC Asian Cup participations.
Carlos Queiroz, who in 2019 was in charge of Iran, has now taken over the Qatar team who bidding to become only the fifth team to win back-to-back Asian crowns after Iran, Japan, Korea Republic and Saudi Arabia.
The 24 participating teams will be divided into six groups of four teams, with the first two teams from each group and the best four third-placed teams going through to the final rounds will take place on February 10, 2024.
Matches will be held at eight stadiums, including six stadiums that co-hosted the 2022 World Cup, which are Al Janoub Stadium, Al Bayt Stadium, Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium, Al Thumama Stadium, Education City Stadium, Khalifa International Stadium. They are joined by Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium and Abdullah Stadium.
Qatar staged the tournament in 1988 and 2011, and move ahead of Iran, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates, who have each twice served as hosts. It is the seventh time that the AFC Asian Cup will be played in the West Zone.
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