2023 Asian Cup: Teams, matches, key players and how you can watch in the UAE

Qatar once again hosts a major tournament between January 12-February 10

Ali Mabkhout (No 7) is the UAE's all-time leading scorer with 85 goals. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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The rescheduled 2023 Asian Cup kicks off in Qatar from January 12.

Qatar, the first and only Middle East country to host the Fifa World Cup, was chosen as a backup to host the continental tournament after China withdrew due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The tournament was pushed back by the Asian Football Confederation due to the high summer temperatures and Qatar's participation in the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup.

What is it?

The 2023 Asian Cup is the 18th edition of the quadrennial continental championship. Qatar are both hosts and defending champions from the last edition in 2019 held in the UAE.

When is it?

The tournament takes place in Qatar from January 12-February 10. The opening ceremony, named "The Lost Chapter of Kelileh and Demneh" will take place at Lusail Stadium ahead of the opening match between hosts Qatar and Lebanon.

Which venues will be used?

Nine stadiums will be used to host the 51 matches. Eight of those were used to stage World Cup matches in 2022, with Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium in Doha added to the list of venues for the 2023 Asian Cup.

Al Bayt Stadium (Al Khor) - 68,895 (capacity)

Lusail Stadium (Lusail) - 88,966

Ahmad bin Ali Stadium (Al Rayyan) - 45,032

Education City Stadium (Al Rayyan) - 44,667

Jassim bin Hamad Stadium (Al Rayyan) - 15,000

Khalifa International Stadium (Al Rayyan) - 45,857

Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium (Doha) - 10,000

Al Thumama Stadium (Doha) - 44,400

Al Janoub Stadium (Al Wakrah) - 44,325

How many teams?

The 2023 edition will feature 24 teams from across the continent. Tajikistan will make their debut at the tournament while Hong Kong return after a 56-year absence.

The teams taking part are:





South Korea



Saudi Arabia










Hong Kong







Five players to watch

Son Heung-min

The Tottenham Hotspur forward carries the hopes of a nation as South Korea look to win a third Asian Cup. Korea won the first two editions, in 1956 and 1960, but have lost in three subsequent finals. In the jet-heeled Son they possess one of the continent's finest finishers and a player on top of his game following a fine start to 2022/23 with his club in which he has netted 12 times in the Premier League. The 31-year-old is both captain and talisman for coach Jurgen Klinsmann and Korea will need him at his best to succeed in Qatar.

Salem Al Dawsari

Voted the best player in Asia at the AFC's annual award ceremony in October, the Saudi Arabian winger is still riding the crest of the wave that saw him score the winning goal against eventual champions Argentina at the 2022 World Cup in one of the biggest shocks in history. One of the few domestic players to outperform the plethora of superstars signed to the Saudi Pro League over the past six months, with Al Dawsari contributing nine goals as Al Hilal top the standings. At 32, will be keen to cement his place as one of Asia's finest players and lead the kingdom to a first continental title since 1996.

Takefusa Kubo

Nurtured for more than a decade as the continent's next superstar, the 22-year-old Japan winger could well make the 2023 Asian Cup his breakout tournament. Failed to make the grade at Real Madrid but is now flourishing at Real Sociedad, helping the Spanish club qualify for the knockout stages of the Uefa Champions League. Bundles of talent and creativity have not been matched in goals, but if Kubo can replicate some of the eye-catching cameos displayed at the 2022 World Cup, Japan could well go one better than five years ago when they lost the championship match to Qatar.

Mehdi Taremi

The Iran striker has struggled for games and goals at club side Porto this season after a prolific start to life in Portugal. Eighty-six goals across competitions in three-and-a-half seasons at Porto is testament to Taremi's goal threat and his 22 league goals made him the Primeira Liga's top scorer last term. With 41 international goals, opposition defences willl do well to keep a close eye on Taremi as Iran look for a third Asian Cup crown and a first since 1976.

Ali Mabkhout

The most prolific Emirati in league and national team history, Mabkhout was seminal to the UAE's run to the 2015 Asian Cup semi-finals in Australia. A one-club man for Al Jazira, where his 256 goals have earned him legendary status while his 85 goals for the national team is also a record. At 33, Mabkhout knows time is running out for him to secure a coveted medal on the international stage. Ten goals in 14 appearances this season suggests Mabkhout is still capable of shining on the big stage.


The 2023 Asian Cup features six groups of four teams. The top two teams in each group qualify automatically for the last 16 along with the four best third-placed teams.

Group A – Qatar, China, Tajikistan, Lebanon

Group B – Australia, Uzbekistan, Syria, India

Group C – Iran, UAE, Hong Kong, Palestine

Group D – Japan, Indonesia, Iraq, Vietnam

Group E – South Korea, Malaysia, Jordan, Bahrain

Group F – Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, Oman


All times are UAE (Qatar is one hour behind):

January 12 - Qatar v Lebanon, 8pm

January 13 - Australia v India, 3.30pm; China v Tajikistan, 6.30pm; Uzbekistan v Syria, 9.30pm

January 14 - Japan v Vietnam, 3.30pm; UAE v Hong Kong, 6.30pm; Iran v Palestine, 9.30pm

January 15 - South Korea v Bahrain, 3.30pm; Indonesia v Iraq, 6.30pm; Malaysia v Jordan, 9.30pm

January 16 - Thailand v Kyrgyzstan, 6.30pm; Saudi Arabia v Oman, 9.30pm

January 17 - Lebanon v China, 3.30pm; Tajikistan v Qatar, 6.30pm

January 18 - Syria v Australia, 3.30pm; India v Uzbekistan, 6.30pm; Palestine v UAE, 9.30pm

January 19 - Hong Kong v Iran, 9.30pm

January 20 - Jordan v South Korea, 3.30pm; Bahrain v Malaysia, 6.30pm

January 21 - Oman v Thailand, 6.30pm; Kyrgyzstan v Saudi Arabia, 9.30pm

January 22 - Qatar v China, 7pm; Tajikistan v Lebanon, 7pm

January 23 - Australia v Uzbekistan, 3.30pm; Syria v India, 3.30pm

January 24 - Iran v UAE, 7pm; Hong Kong v Palestine, 7pm

January 25 - Japan v Indonesia, 3.30pm; Iraq v Vietnam, 3.30pm; South Korea v Malaysia, 3.30pm; Jordan v Bahrain, 3.30pm; Saudi Arabia v Thailand, 7pm; Kyrgyzstan v Oman, 7pm

Last-16 stage

January 28 - Runner-up Group A v runner-up Group C; winner Group B v third place Group A/C/D

January 29 - Winner Group D v third place Group B/E/F; winner Group A v third place Group C/D/E

January 30 - Winner Group F v runner-up Group E; runner-up Group B v runner-up Group F

January 31 - Winner Group C v third place Group A/B/F; winner Group E v runner-up Group D


February 2 and 3


February 6 and 7


February 10

Prize money

Total prize money pool for the tournament is $14,800,000. The champions will receive $5 million with the runners-up pocketing $3 million. The losing semi-finalists will receive $1 million each. All 24 participating teams would also receive $200,000.

How can I watch the games on TV?

Fans in the UAE can watch all the games on Abu Dhabi Sports. For more information visit www.adsports.ae.

Updated: January 04, 2024, 5:47 AM