2019 Asian Cup to begin on Jan 5
The 2019 Asian Cup will begin on Jan. 5 and will be played over 28 days across eight stadiums in the United Arab Emirates, the continent's soccer governing body said yesterday. The Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi will play host to the opening game and the final on Feb. 1 in the region's premier tournament for the member nations, the Asian Football Confederation said in a statement. Three stadiums in Abu Dhabi and two each in Dubai and Al Ain and one in Sharjah will host the tournament, which will feature 24 teams for the first time after expanding from 16 in the last edition in Australia in 2015. Defending champions Australia, China, Iraq, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Thailand, Uzbekistan and hosts United Arab Emirates have sealed their spots for the tournament. The continent's elite 12 will be joined by 12 others from the final round of qualifiers in which 24 teams will be divided into six groups of four. The winners and runners-up from each group will qualify for the finals.