in eight stadiums in four cities
Doha: Eight stadiums in four cities have been proposed for the finals of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 to be held in the United Arab Emirates at the first meeting of the Organising Committee for the AFC Asian Cup 2019 held on Wednesday in Doha, Qatar.
The AFC Organising Committee was informed that the inaugural 24-team tournament, described by its chairman Saoud Al Mohannadi as the ‘jewel in the AFC crown’, would kick off at the Zayed Sports City Stadium, one of three stadiums in Abu Dhabi, which would also host the final.
The committee agreed in principle to the proposal and to the use of two other stadiums in Abu Dhabi – Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium and Al Nahyan Stadium - and two in Al Ain, which would be the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium and the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium.
In Dubai it is proposed there would be two venues - the Zabeel Stadium and the still to be confirmed Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium. The eighth venue will be Sharjah Stadium in the Emirate of Sharjah.
The committee also approved the match schedule which will maximise the use of venues. At least five matches will be allocated to each venue, with every ground hosting at least one match in the knockout stage.
To increase spectator and broadcast interest, the semi-finals will be played on different days in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. No city will host two matches on the same day – except in the final round of group stage matches when simultaneous kick-off is required. There will be no third/fourth place game.
Hotel and training grounds for the tournament, which will comprise 51 matches over 28 days, will be recommended in March 2016 by the Local Organising Committee.
The decisions will be ratified by the AFC Executive Committee at their meeting in Doha on Thursday.
Mr Mohannadi said that Australia 2015 had set the bar high for future Asian Cups, and added: ‘The resounding success of the AFC Asian Cup 2015 in Australia simply underlined the fact that it is the pinnacle of football in Asia.
“We again thank Australia and the Local Organising Committee and the AFC Organising Committee, chaired by His Royal Highness Prince Abdullah Ibni Sultan Ahmad Shah, for their outstanding efforts, but now we must turn to 2019 and the next host - the United Arab Emirates.
“I am sure that in the next three years they will work extremely hard to emulate and even exceed their predecessors in producing a player and spectator-friendly event.
“With world class stadiums, a dedicated LOC and the assistance of this Organising Committee, I am sure that they will maintain the astonishing rise of the AFC Asian Cup.”