UAE’s 2019 Asian Cup bid in 'very good shape’
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The UAE’s bid to host the 2019 Asian Cup is in âvery good shape’, according to Abu Dhabi Sports Council’s technical affairs director Talal Al Hashemi.
Two Asian Football Confederation (AFC) officials paid a second visit to the UAE on Wednesday to inspect Al Ahli Club in Al Ghusais, the site of a new 45,000-seater stadium, which will be completed by 2018.
Five other stadiums across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, have already been inspected by the AFC, but officials were back to “clear up some points”, according to Al Hashemi, who expressed confidence ahead of March 8thâs winning bid announcement.
AFC officials flew into Dubai on Tuesday via a similar two-day visit to Iran. They are now the UAE’s main rival to host the tournament with Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Oman, Malaysia, Lebanon, China and Bahrain all out of the running.
The 2019 edition of the tournament, which is held every four years, will see number of teams expand from 16 to 24.
“I cannot say confident, but at the base we are in very good shape,” said Al Hashemi. “The meeting today was to clear up some points that were not clear from the first inspection.
“I hope we have now covered all areas regarding infrastructure across the three cities of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, and shown that they are ready to host the tournament. Most of the stadiums have met AFC criteria, including the training facilities, which are also in good condition. I hope that by March 8 they [AFC] will unveil the UAE as the host of the 2019 Asian Cup.”
The UAE has only once staged the Asian Cup in 1996 and went on to hold the Fifa Under-20 and Under-17 World Cups in 2003 and 2013, as well as the Fifa Club World Cup in 2009 and 2010. Al Hashemi said additional bids to host the Fifa Club World Cup again in 2017 and 2018, one month before the 2019 Asian Cup, had also “helped a lot” in proving their willingness to prepare. Mohammad Hazzam Al Daheri, the acting general secretary of the UAE Football Association, added “all factors” were in the UAE’s favour.
“The UAE has always been confident of hosting such a cup having hosted it before, we had good success, and we are willing to raise the bar in 2019.
“We have good infra structure, logistics and support of the leadership, so all factors are indicating that the UAE is ready to host the 2019 Asian Cup. You cannot say we are favourites, but now it’s between us and Iran.”