AFC Asian Cup
All eyes will be on Doha for the Final Draw ceremony on Thursday for the 18th edition of AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 which will be held from Jan. 12 to Feb. 10 2024.
The draw, which will take place at the Katara Opera House at 2pm local time, will set the routes of the 24 teams that will participate in the finals.
The AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 will be unique, this is after the historic hosting of the FIFA World Cup 2022, so that the tournament will be the first to be held on World Cup venues, which guarantees its success.
Qatar will became the first country to host the finals of the continental competition for the third time, after 1988 and 2011. It moves ahead of Iran, Thailand and the UAE, which have each twice served as hosts. It is the seventh time that the AFC Asian Cup will be played in the West Zone.
The Local Organizing Committee (LOC) chose Katara Opera House as it is a world-renowned cultural hub for artistes and musicians. It provides the perfect setting for the Final Draw with its sophisticated architecture that fuses modern and traditional Islamic design elements, and is home to the renowned Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, which sows the seeds of symphonic music in the Arab region, while serving as a platform for music from all over the world.
The 24 qualified teams will be divided into four Pots of six each in accordance with the latest FIFA Ranking on April 6. Thereafter, the teams will be drawn into six groups of four each.
Pot 1 includes Qatar, Japan, Iran, Korea Republic, Australia and Saudi Arabia, Pot 2 includes Iraq, UAE, Oman, Uzbekistan, China and Jordan, Pot 3 includes Bahrain, Syria, Palestine, Vietnam, Kyrgyz Republic and Lebanon, and Pot 4 includes India, Tajikistan, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Indonesia.
To ensure that Qatar commences the tournament with the opening match, the hosts have been allocated the first position in Pot 1.
Japan is placed 20th globally in the FIFA rankings, followed by Iran (24th), South Korea (27), Australia (29th), and Saudi Arabia (54th).
The 2023 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar will witness the historic first appearance of the Tajikistan national team, which will be the 36th team to participate in the Asian Cup since its inception in 1956. Three other teams, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Malaysia, qualified for the upcoming tournament but did not participate in the previous edition in the United Arab Emirates in 2019. Meanwhile, both China and Hong Kong will appear together for the first time since the 1968 edition.
The Iranian and South Korean national teams top the list of most appearances in the tournament with 15 participations each, with China following in second place. Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have 11 participations each, while Japan and Iraq have participated 10 times in the Asian Cup finals. The Iranian national team holds the record for the most matches played in the history of the tournament, with 68 matches. It is also the only team which have won the cup three consecutive times in the years 1968, 1972 and 1976.
The Japanese national team tops the list of winners with four titles in years (1992, 2000, 2004, 2011), followed by the Saudi Arabian team in second place with three titles in years (1984, 1988, 1996), alongside the Iranian team with the same number of titles in years (1968, 1972, 1976), and South Korea in two editions (1956, 1960), while Qatar won one title in 2019, Australia in 2015, Iraq in 2007, and Kuwait in 1980.
The Asian Football Confederation announced the participation of seven Asian football stars in the draw ceremony that will determine the groups for the 24 qualified teams in the finals. These stars, representing the five regions in the Asian Confederation, were selected to assist the AFC General Secretary Datuk Seri Windsor John in revealing the six groups in the tournament.
Leading the participating stars is Hassan Al-Haydos, the captain of the Qatari national team that won the historic first title in the previous edition in the United Arab Emirates in 2019. He is joined by the two-time Asian Player of the Year, Uzbekistan's Server Djeparov. They will be accompanied by the famous duo worldwide, Park Ji-sung, the South Korean legend and one of the most successful Asian football players in history, and the Australian icon, Tim Cahill.
The Asian Football Confederation announced the participation of seven Asian football stars in the draw ceremony that will determine the groups for the 24 qualified teams in the finals. These stars, representing the five regions in the Asian Confederation, were selected to assist the AFC Secretary-General Datuk Windsor John in revealing the six groups in the tournament.
Leading the participating stars is Hassan Al Haydos, the captain of the Qatari national team that won the historic first title in the previous edition in the United Arab Emirates in 2019. He is joined by the two-time Asian Player of the Year, Uzbekistan's Server Djeparov. They will be accompanied by the famous duo worldwide, Park Ji-sung, the South Korean legend and one of the most successful Asian football players in history, and the Australian icon, Tim Cahill.
Three women will also join the ceremony, who have had a significant impact on Asian football. They are the Japanese referee Yoshimi Yamashita, who became the first woman to officiate a match in the FIFA Men's World Cup during the 2022 edition in Qatar. Additionally, there is the former captain of the Chinese national team, Sun Wen who won the Golden Ball and Golden Boot awards as the best scorer in the 1999 Women's World Cup in the United States. There is also Maymol Rocky from India, who became the first woman to coach the Indian women's national team in 2017 and is currently the coach of the Indian women's under-20 team.
The AFC Secretary-General, Datuk Windsor John stated in a press release: "After more than three years of intense and exciting work in the qualifiers, all eyes will now turn to the final draw, which will take place tomorrow, Thursday. I am confident that the AFC, along with the Qatar Football Association and the local organizing committee, will deliver a world-class event." The Qatari team captain, Hassan Al-Haydos said: "It will be a special moment when I can lead my country's team here at home in the biggest tournament in Asian football and defend the title we won in the previous edition in front of our loyal fans. Hosting the Asian Cup in Qatar for the third time in history, after 12 years since the last edition we hosted, is a great honor for us. I am sure we will organize a fantastic tournament, starting with the final draw on Thursday." Park Ji-sung, who last participated in the Asian Cup in 2011 in Qatar when he led his team to third place, said: "I am very happy to participate in the draw ceremony in Doha alongside my fellow Asian stars, which means the finals are approaching, and it will undoubtedly witness fierce competition. I still have fond memories of my last participation in the Asian Cup in 2011 here in Qatar, a country that has made great strides in organizing major events, and I am confident that the 2023 edition of the Asian Cup will be the biggest and the best." The participating teams had secured their appearance through two stages of qualifying. The first stage was combined with the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, and it ensured the qualification of 13 teams for the finals. The second stage was specific to the 2023 Asian Cup, and the remaining 11 teams qualified through it.
Originally, the continental finals were scheduled to be held in China in June , 2023. However, China apologized for hosting the tournament a month before its scheduled date. As a result, the hosting rights were awarded to Qatar after outperforming the files of South Korea and Indonesia. Consequently, the tournament was postponed to early next year, 2024.