Qatar Takes Center Stage as AFC Asian Cup Kick-Off Nears

Thirteen months after hosting the historic FIFA World Cup, Qatar is once again in the spotlight as it prepares to kick off the AFC Asian Cup. The excitement is reaching a fever pitch as 24 top teams from the continent finalize their preparations for a quest for glory.

The 88,000-capacity Lusail Stadium, which hosted the unforgettable World Cup final, is set to be filled with spectators as hosts and defending champions Qatar face Lebanon in the opening match. Spread across nine venues, including seven that hosted the World Cup, this edition of the Asian Cup is anticipated to be the most successful in the tournament's history.

The Local Organizing Committee (LOC) has announced complete readiness to host the tournament, promising fans a unique experience with a variety of entertainment activities planned throughout the 30-day continental showpiece, featuring a total of 51 matches culminating in the final at Lusail Stadium on February 10.

Ticket sales for the tournament have seen overwhelming response, with nearly one million tickets already claimed by fans, according to the LOC. Qatar is hosting the Asian Cup for a record third time, having previously hosted the tournament in 1988 and 2011. The AFC has praised Qatar's readiness despite the limited time to prepare after the tournament was shifted from China last summer.

Mariano V. Araneta Jr., Chairperson of the Organising Committee of AFC Asian Cup (OCAC), commended the efforts and coordination between the LOC and the AFC, highlighting Qatar's world-class infrastructure and seamless connectivity. Araneta expressed excitement about hosting the AFC Asian Cup in FIFA World Cup venues and praised Qatar's hosting capabilities.

The tournament is expected to feature exciting contests, with teams well-prepared after months of training. Qatar, the defending champions, face tough competition from star-studded teams like Japan, South Korea, Iran, Australia, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. The home team, Qatar, aims to delight fans after a disappointing performance in the FIFA World Cup. The tournament will showcase talents like Almoez Ali, who aims to become the all-time leading scorer, along with other stars like Son Heung-min, Kaoru Mitoma, Salem Al Dawsari, and Mehdi Taremi.

As the AFC Asian Cup kicks off, the anticipation is palpable, and Qatar is set to once again showcase its prowess in hosting major sporting events.

Click here to download the complete match schedule and a brief guideline to reach the various stadiums.