As all eyes draw towards the United Arab Emirates, while it makes its final preparations for the AFC Asian Cup 2019, the airline Emirates has flown in the trophy to Dubai from Japan, via Hong Kong. After travelling nearly 25,000km across several major Asian cities, the new AFC Asian Cup trophy has finally landed on Friday in Dubai – one of the four host cities of the AFC Asian Cup in the UAE. Now it is all ready to be lifted by the winners.
AFC Asian Cup Trophy
The Asian Cup Trophy draws its inspiration from the lotus flower that symbolizes peace throughout Asia. The five petals represent the 5 regional associations under the Asian Football Confederation. Finding its way to the Emirates Group HQ Building at the Dubai International Airport, the new silverware was welcomed by the the UAE 2019 Local Organizing Committee, representatives from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and long-time AFC partners, Emirates Airlines. The Asian Cup Trophy, which will replace the previous one in use since the first tournament in 1956, was first unveiled in Dubai in May.
The Asian Cup
It is a quadrennial football tournament. The Asian Football Confederation organizes the tournament. First held in 1956, it is the second oldest continental football championship in the world after the Copa America. Australia have been the reigning Asian champions after their success on home soil in 2015.
When will Asian Cup 2019 take place?
It will take place in the UAE from January 5 to February 1 – only the second time the Emirates has played host. The UAE last staged the tournament in 1996, when its team was defeated in the final on penalties by the Gulf rivals Saudi Arabia. That has remained the UAE’s best Asian Cup performance till date. Four years ago, they finished third.
The Asian Cup Event
It will start on January 5. The UAE team will face Bahrain at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City Stadium. The matches will run until February 1. Drawn in Group A, the UAE will face India at the same venue on January 10 and round off the pool against Thailand 4 days later at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain.
8 Venues for Matches
Eight venues have been selected across the 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 Rashid Stadium have been selected, as has Sharjah Stadium. The majority of the venues have undergone refurbishment ahead of the Asian Cup. Zayed Sports City will stage the opening match and the final.