AFC Asian Cup 2023: All you need to know – Dates, Venues, Star Attractions, and Format
Asia’s top 24 footballing nations will compete with each other at the continental extravaganza i.e. the AFC Asian Cup 2023 from January 12 in a bid to lay claim to the title of being Asia’s finest.
The defending champions Qatar are also the hosts of the 18th edition of the tournament after China pulled out from hosting the continental showpiece. The 2023 edition of the tournament will be held at 9 venues in 5 host cities.
The AFC Asian Cup has a rich heritage Japan being the most successful team with four trophies in its cabinet. Saudi Arabia and Iran have a nice opportunity to come up on level terms with them as they have three titles to their name.
The AFC Asian Cup is the second oldest continental football tournament in the world with its first edition being held way back in 1956. South Korea won the first two editions of the tournament but the Taegeuk Warriors are yet to clinch the gold medal since then.
Iran’s Ali Daei is the leading goal scorer of the tournament with 14 goals to his name followed by South Korea’s Lee Dong-gook with 10 strikes. UAE’s Ali Mabkhout and Qatar’s Almoez Ali have a shot to go above the two aforementioned names as they are tied with 9 goals each.
The 2023 AFC Asian Cup was shifted by one year owing to a delay in organizing the qualifiers because of the COVID-19 pandemic. China was supposed to organise the tournament in 2023 but opted out. Qatar was named as the new designated hosts but due to their participation in the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup, it got postponed to 2024.
The first group stage of the match will be held on 12th January 2024 with Qatar taking on Lebanon at the Lusail Stadium at 9:30 PM IST. The group stage encounters will end with a double-header between Saudi Arabia vs Thailand and Kyrgyzstan vs Oman on 25th January 2024 in a Group F encounter.
The Round of 16 matches will be held from 28th January 2024 to 31st January 2024. The quarter-finals will be held on 2nd February 2024 and 3rd February 2024. The semifinals will be held on 6th and 7th February 2024 while the finals will be held on 10th February 2024.
The 2023 AFC Asian Cup will be held in the Gulf region for the fifth time with Qatar hosting it for the third time. They were previously the hosts of the tournament in 1988 and 2011 when Saudi Arabia and Japan emerged as winners respectively.
A total of 9 venues will host the tournament with the city of Rayyan having four stadiums for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup – Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium (capacity – 45032), Education City Stadium (capacity – 44667), Jassam Bin Hamad Stadium (capacity – 15000), and Khalifa International Stadium (capacity – 45857).
The city of Al Khor has the Al Bayt stadium with a capacity of 68895. The final will be hosted at the Al Lusail Stadium boasting a seating capacity of 88966. The city of Doha has two stadiums to entertain the crowd with Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium having a capacity of 10000 only and Al Thumama Stadium having a capacity of 44400. The Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah has a capacity of 44325 only.
A total of 24 teams will take part in the tournament with Qatar, Australia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and South Korea among the favourites to lift the trophy.
In Group A consisting of Qatar, China, Tajikistan, and Lebanon, the fans can keep an eye on Abdulaziz Hatem, Boualem Khoukhi and Hassan Al Haydos who have 112, 110 and 176 caps for Qatar respectively. Qatar’s Almoez Ali has 50 goals to his name from 96 matches.
AZ Alkmaar’s goalkeeper Matthew Ryan is the most experienced player for Australia with 86 international caps to his name. A clash between him and Uzbekistan’s veteran Igor Sergeyev who has 70 caps to his name in Group B will be a sight to behold. Syria and India are the two other countries in the group.
Iran’s Mehdi Taremi would be eager to get some goals to his name in Group C after smashing 6 goals in 24 matches for Porto this season. He will be partnering with Karim Ansarifard up front who has 98 caps to his name and plies his trade in Cyprus’ club Omonia. Roma’s Sardar Azmoun and AEK Athens defender Ehsan Hajsafi are some other notable names who will compete against UAE, Hong Kong, and Palestine.
In Group D, Borussia Monchengladbach defender Ko Itakura would be eager to ensure Japan get as many clean sheets as possible while Liverpool midfielder Wataru Endo would don the armband. Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal), Hiroki Ito (Stuttgart), Takefusa Kubo (Real Sociedad), Takuma Asano (Bochum), and Takumi Minamino (Monaco) are some other Japanese players plying their trade in the top five leagues of Europe.
Tottenham Hotspur star forward Son Heung-min will captain South Korea and will have the likes of Bayern Munich’s Kim Min-jae, PSG’s Lee Kang-in and Wolverhampton’s Hwang Hee-chan accompanying him against the likes of Malaysia, Jordan, and Bahrain in Group E.
All of Saudi Arabia’s players play in the domestic league with seven of them from Al Nassr who share the dressing room with Christiano Ronaldo. Salem Al Dawsari is the most experienced of the lot with 78 caps to his name. Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, and Oman have to be on their toes to stop them in Group F.
The format of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup is the same as that of the previous edition. The 24 teams are divided into six groups of four teams each.
All the teams will play against each other once and the top two teams will qualify for the round of 16. The four remaining spots will be filled by the top four third-placed teams.
|United Arab Emirates
The winner of Group F will take on the runner-up of Group E in the round of 16. Simultaneously, the winner of Group E will take on the runner-up of Group D. On the other hand, the runner-up of Group B will take on the runner-up of Group F. The runners-up of Group A and Group C will find them clashing against each other.
The opponents for winners of Groups A, B, C, and D will only be known once the best four third-placed teams are finalised.
The knockout games will go into extra time if scores are level at the end of 90 minutes and if still, the two sides are still not separated the match will go to the penalty shootout. The round of 16 will be followed by the quarter-final, semi-final, and finals. No separate match will be held between the two losing semi-finals to determine the third-placed team of the tournament.