Asian Cup 2023 kicks off with colourful opening ceremony in Qatar - in pictures

Hosts take on Lebanon in opening match of tournament

Powered by automated translation

A little over a year after it hosted a memorable 2022 Fifa World Cup, Qatar welcomed top-level football to its shores once again as the rescheduled 2023 Asian Cup kicked off in Lusail on Friday.

After China backed out of hosting the tournament, Qatar - who have hosted the Asian Cup twice before in 1988 and 2011 - accepted the opportunity.

Friday was a moment to celebrate at the Lusail Stadium, which would later host the opening match between Qatar and Lebanon.

The opening ceremony celebrated the diversity of the football teams in the competition, the region's animal kingdom and its storytelling heritage.

The ceremony featured a musical called The Lost Chapter of Kelileh and Demneh. It featured actors portraying 24 animals native to Asia and the Middle East.

This year's tournament features 24 teams from across the continent. World Cup-qualifying teams South Korea, Japan, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Iran are among the nations competing in the tournament that runs until February 10.

Tottenham's South Korea forward Son Heung-Min is arguably the biggest star attraction, but there are a number of other well-known names in action.

Liverpool midfielder Wataru Endo will be competing for Japan and he will be joined by compatriots Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton), Takumi Minamino (Monaco) and Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal).

Updated: January 12, 2024, 5:59 PM