The UAE will host the 17th edition of the Asian Cup from January 5-February 1 next year. Here is a lowdown on the tournament and all the information you need.
WHAT IS IT?
The Asian Cup is a quadrennial football tournament organised by the Asian Football Confederation. First held in 1956, it is the second-oldest continental football championship in the world after the Copa America. Australia are the reigning Asian champions following their success on home soil in 2015.
WHEN IS IT?
The 2019 Asian Cup will take place in the UAE from January 5 to February 1 - only the second time the Emirates has played host.
The country last staged the tournament in 1996, when the national team were defeated in the final on penalties by Gulf rivals Saudi Arabia. That remains the UAE's best Asian Cup performance to date. Four years ago, they finished third.
WHERE DO THE MATCHES TAKE PLACE?
Eight venues have been chosen across three emirates to stage the 51 matches. In Abu Dhabi, matches will be played at Zayed Sports City Stadium, Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium and Al Nahyan Stadium, while Al Ain’s Hazza bin Zayed Stadium and Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium will also host games.
In Dubai, Al Maktoum Stadium and the Maktoum bin Rashid Stadium have been selected, as has Sharjah Stadium. The majority of the venues have undergone extensive refurbishment ahead of the Asian Cup. Zayed Sports City will stage the opening match and the final.
WHO IS PLAYING?
For the first time, the Asian Cup will feature 24 teams, having been expanded from the 16-team format employed between 2004 and 2015. Teams have been divided into six groups of four, with the top two sides and the four best third-placed sides progressing to the knockout stages.
As hosts, the UAE qualified automatically, while the other 23 teams were determined by a qualification process that ran from March 2015 to March this year. Its first two rounds also served as part of qualification for the 2018 Fifa World Cup.
WHO HAS BEEN DRAWN WITH WHO IN THE GROUP STAGES?
The UAE were drawn in Group A alongside Bahrain, Thailand and India. They will kick off the tournament against their Gulf neighbours on January 5 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium.
Elsewhere, defending champions Australia were drawn in Group B alongside 2018 World Cup play-off rivals Syria, Palestine and Jordan.
Saudi Arabia were placed in Group E together with Qatar, Lebanon and North Korea, while Iran - Asia’s highest-ranked side - take on Iraq, Vietnam and Yemen in Group D.
WHO ARE THE PAST WINNERS?
Japan are the most successful team in tournament history having won the trophy a record four times: 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2011. Saudi Arabia (3), Iran (3) and South Korea (2) are the event’s only other multiple winners. Israel, Kuwait, Iraq and Australia have all won it once. The last team to retain the title were Japan, in 2004.
HOW MUCH ARE TICKETS AND WHERE ARE THEY PURCHASED?
Tickets are released on Monday July 30. They can be purchased at www.afcasiancup2019.com. Tickets are priced as follows.
Group stages Category 3 Dh25; Category 2 Dh50; Category 1 Dh75
Last 16 Category 3 Dh25; Category 2 Dh50; Category 1 Dh75
Quarter-finals Category 3 Dh50; Category 2 Dh75; Category 1 Dh150
Semi-finals Category 3 Dh50; Category 2 Dh75; Category 1 Dh150
Final Category 3 Dh75; Category 2 Dh150; Category 1 Dh300