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2023 AFC Asian Cup: Everything you need to know

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2023 AFC Asian Cup
AFC Asian Cup: Everything you need to know. Photo/ Sporting News.
  • The 2023 Asian Cup is set to kick off later today (Friday)
  • Qatar are the hosts of this year’s edition of the Asian Cup
  • The final will be played at Lusail Stadium on February 11

The 2023 AFC Asian Cup is finally here with us, as the tournament is set to kick off later today (Friday). To begin with, it’s fair to feel a bit confused by the titling of the tournament, which usually takes place in the summer. But don’t worry, we will explain that.

Qatar are the hosts of the 2023 edition of the Asian Cup, and just like the 2022 FIFA World Cup, it means that the tournament couldn’t take place in the summer due to the harsh climate conditions at that time. As a result, the tournament was moved to January and is taking place at the same time as the Africa Cup of Nations.

Asian Cup

Qatar will be facing Lebanon later today. Photo/ The Stats Zone.

Lusail Stadium, where the final of the 2022 FIFA World Cup was played, will light up in gold once again as Qatar begin their Asian Cup title defence against Lebanon. With that said, let’s guide you through everything you need to know about the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

Brief History Of The Asian Cup 

For starters, the Asian Cup is a football competition contested by the members of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), to determine Asia’s giants in football. The Asian Cup began after World War II and is the second oldest tournament after the Copa America.

The Asia Cup takes place once every four years, with the last edition of the tournament taking place in 2019. Qatar are the defending champions and will be aiming to win a second-straight title this year. Japan (four) and Saudi Arabia (three) are the most successful teams in the competition, having won seven of the last ten finals.

Which Teams Are Taking Part In The 2023 AFC Asian Cup?

There are six groups of four nations taking part in this year’s event. This means that a total of 24 teams will be competing for Asia’s crown in football. There was a a yearlong qualification phase, with 23 teams making the cut. China were given a slot earlier on the basis of its original hosting rights.

Four of the 24 teams from the last edition failed to qualify for the 2023 tournament. Tajikistan are debutants while Hong Kong have made a surprise return after five decades.

Group A: China, Lebanon, Qatar, Tajikistan
Group B: Australia, India, Syria, Uzbekistan
Group C: Hong Kong, Iran, Palestine, UAE
Group D: Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Vietnam
Group E: Bahrain, Jordan, Malaysia, South Korea
Group F: Kyrgyzstan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Thailand

Why Is Australia In Asian Cup?

Are you surprised by the presence of Australia in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup? We will explain that. Australia was initially a member of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC). However, they were constantly left frustrated because they failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup due to their ranking in the OFC. FIFA never guaranteed them an automatic spot in the FIFA World Cup despite being the strongest team in the OFC.

Australia

Australia won the 2015 AFC Asian Cup. Photo/ Khel Now.

As a result, Australia resigned from the OFC and decided to join the Asian Football Confederation in 2006. Apart from featuring in every World Cup since 2006, they have also been participating in the Asian Cup tournaments. They hosted the 2015 edition of the tournament, winning it after beating South Korea in the final.

Key Dates

The tournament kicks off today at the Lusail Stadium, where hosts Qatar will be facing Lebanon in the first match of Group A. The group games will be played until January 25, after which there will be a two-day gap before the round of 16 commences on January 28.

The round of 16 games will be played until January 31 and then the quarterfinals will start the following day, lasting for two days. The semifinals will be played on February 6 and 7, and then the final will be played on February 11.

Who Are The Favourites?

2023 AFC Asian Cup

The Asian Cup. Photo/ Sporting News.

Japan enters the 2023 AFC Asian Cup as one of the favourites to win, considering their stellar performances during and after the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Hot on their heels is Saudi Arabia, who are confident of a strong tournament, having appointed one of the best football managers in the world, Roberto Mancini.

South Korea are also favourites as they have decent players, including Premier League duo Son Heung-min and Hwang Hee-chan.

Abraham Odhiambo is an avid sports fan who loves to write about football, boxing and wrestling. He's a big supporter of Manchester United. He's pursuing a bachelor's degree in Communication and Media at Egerton University.

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