Korea to bid to host 2023 AFC Asian Cup
The Korea Football Association (KFA) confirmed Monday that Korea is entering a bid to take over as the new hosts of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.
The KFA said Monday that it has started fielding applications for cities and stadiums interested in hosting matches and will enter the bid before the June 30 deadline set by the AFC.
China, the original host of the 2023 Asian Cup, withdrew last month due to the country’s Zero-Covid policy.
The AFC last week called for interested parties to bid to take over as host for the tournament, which is scheduled to run from 16 June to 16 July next year, earlier this month. That schedule could change, however, especially if a hotter country from west Asia wins the bid.
The AFC is yet to announce a shortlist of preferred bidders, but possible contenders include Qatar, which will have hosted the 2022 Qatar World Cup only seven months earlier, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Korea.
The KFA also mentioned that Australia, which has the infrastructure in place after hosting the tournament in 2015, is said to be interested, but the country is unlikely to actually be able to put in a bid as it will be hosting the 2023 Women’s World Cup in July.
Interested parties — including Korea — have until June 30 to officially state their interest in hosting the tournament. The AFC is then expected to move quickly to have a new host in place to allow us much time as possible for preparation for the tournament.
Bids must include stadiums that pass the AFC's capacity requirements — over 20,000 up to the quarterfinals, 40,000 for the semifinals and 50,000 for the finals.
Wherever it ends up being played, the cast of 24 nations that will compete at the continental tournament has now been determined.
Korea was among the 13 clubs to qualify for the Asian Cup last year, during the second round of qualifiers that also acted as the Asian qualifiers for the 2022 Qatar World Cup. In the second round, eight group winners and the five best runners-up earned a ticket to the Asian Cup.
Korea earned their spot as the winner of Group H, as did Lebanon as the runner-up from the same group.
Also from the second round: Syria and China qualified as the winner and runner-up of Group A; Australia qualified as the winner of Group B; Iran and Iraq qualified as the winner and runner-up of Group C; Saudi Arabia qualified as the winner of Group D; Qatar and Oman qualified as the winner and runner-up of Group E; Japan qualified as the winner of Group F; and the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam qualified as the winner and runner-up of Group G.
Following that second round, the final 11 spots were determined in the third round of Asian Cup qualifiers earlier this month, where six group winners and the five best runners-up earned their tickets to the tournament.
Jordan, Palestine, Uzbekistan, India, Bahrain and Tajikistan, who will make their Asian Cup debut next year, all topped their group to earn a berth at the tournament, with Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Kyrgyzstan taking the final spots.
Qatar enter the tournament as reigning champions, having won in 2019, with Japan, Korea, Australia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq all also former winners. Japan is the winningest team, with four victories to their name.
BY JIM BULLEY [firstname.lastname@example.org]