The road to AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015™ became clearer on Tuesday as the Preliminary Draw for Asia’s biggest football event was conducted in Melbourne.
Twenty teams were drawn into five groups of four teams each. Teams will play home and away against each of their group opponents between February 2013 and March 2014.
The winner and runners-up from each group will qualify for the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015™ Finals along with the best third-placed team from among all the groups. These 11 teams will join automatic qualifiers Australia, Japan, Korea Republic, DPR Korea along with the winner of the AFC Challenge Cup 2014.
The AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015™ Qualifiers Groups are:
Group A: Jordan, Syria, Oman, Singapore
Group B: IR Iran, Kuwait, Thailand, Lebanon
Group C: Iraq, China PR, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia
Group D: Qatar, Bahrain, Yemen, Malaysia
Group E: Uzbekistan, UAE, Vietnam, Hong Kong
“The preliminary draw has thrown up some great contests, and we are sure to see some exciting matches over the next 18 months,” said AFC Acting President Zhang Jilong. “We’re thrilled that AFC’s newest member, Australia, will be hosting Asia’s flagship national team competition for the first time”.
Frank Lowy, Chairman of Football Federation Australia and the Local Organising Committee said that Australia was determined to deliver the best Asian Cup yet and promised a festival of football.
“This will be the largest football competition ever staged in our country. It will be a feast of international football, and we’re confident that Australians will get behind all the 16 teams, as we have shown for other major events”.
Mr Lowy also thanked State and Commonwealth Governments for their support of the event. “We are working with five Governments to deliver AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015. Their support and expertise has been invaluable”, he said.
Premier of Victoria, Ted Baillieu, said that Melbourne would be a festival of sport in January 2015. “Melbourne will once again be the centre of world sport in hosting both AFC Asian Cup 2015 matches and the Australian Open at the same time. The AFC Asian Cup is another jewel in Melbourne’s major events crown”.
Matches for the competition proper will take place in Victoria, New South Wales, ACT and Queensland, with venues to be confirmed in early 2013. It is expected that tickets will go on sale in early 2014.
AFC Asian Cup Organising Committee Chairman His Royal Highness Tengku Abdullah Ibni Sultan Ahmad Shah praised Australia and the Local Organising Committee for preparations to date. “The AFC was impressed with the progress update provided by Michael Brown and his team. While there is much work still to be done, we are confident that Australia will deliver a very special competition, one that will leave a lasting legacy for the game both in Australia and across Asia”.
AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 Logo Launched
Organisers also revealed the logo for the competition at the Melbourne event.Designed by a Sydney agency, WiteKite, the logo depicts a stylised player, kicking a football from the east coast towards Asia. The ball also represents the Australian summer sun arcing west from Australia to Asia. The four golden bands forming the map of Australia represent the four host cities. The design is completed by the Australia 2015 script, in a relaxed personal hand-written style.
Michael Brown, CEO of the Local Organising Committee said that the logo reflects an event that will be a festival of football. “It will be celebrated in January, the height of the Australian summer holiday season, so the colour palette is warm, festive and embracing of all participants from across Asia”, he said.
“The logo needed to embody the values of the competition, represent the host nation and most importantly excite and connect fans, teams and stakeholders. We believe the designers have done a great job in achieving all three aims”