2015 AFC Asian Cup

It is Asia's largest and most premier football tournament, giving 16 of the top teams in the region the platform of the world stage and a chance to become Asia's Champions.

Audience

This tournament, quickly gaining in international excitement, will have millions of eyes watching it from every region in the world. 800 million people are expected to watch AC2015 matches with the tournament reaching a potential TV audience of more than 2.5 billion.

Hosts

The Asian Cup is being hosted for the very first time outside of the continent of Asia by Australia. Matches will be played in five cities: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Newcastle. Participating teams are travelling between 8,000 and 14,000 km to their base camp (where they stay in Australia between matches). 

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The Sydney AC2015 football fan park. Photo: AFC Asian Cup on Facebook.

Teams

44 teams competed in the two-year qualification process of AC2015. 16 qualify for the tournament. The winner earns the right to participate in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup to be hosted by Russia.

The 16 teams are divided into four groups of four for the Group Stage. Final squads are made up of 23 players (three of whom must be goalkeepers).

Group A

  • Australia (host)
  • Korea Republic (South Korea)
  • Oman
  • Kuwait

Group B

  • Uzbekistan
  • Saudi Arabia
  • China PR
  • DPR Korea (North Korea)

Group C

  • Iran
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Qatar
  • Bahrain

Group D

  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Iraq
  • Palestine

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Match schedule

A total of 32 matches will be played in the tournament. In the Group Stage, each team plays the other three teams in their Group once. The winners and runners-up (top two teams) from each Group advance to the Knock-out Stage. Scoring is based on a points system – teams are ranked according to points: 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss).

First matches of the Group Stage will be played on 9 January – 20 January.

Quarter-finals are on the 22 and 23 January.

Semi-finals are the 26 and 27 of January.

Third place match to take place on 30 January.

Final match is 31 January at Sydney.

What are people saying about AC2015

Favourited teams to lift the Cup

(In order) Four-time champions Japan, host country team the Soccerroos of Australia, South Korea, and three-time champions Iran. 

While Iran and South Korea are Cup favourites, neither have won the Asian Cup in almost four decades.

The host has not won since 1992.

The underdogs: Palestine

This is Palestine's first Asian Cup appearance -- an achievement in itself for this eclectic team of players from all four corners of the globe. Unfortunately, Palestine faces current champions Japan in their very first match of the tournament. 

Group preview

GROUP A: Favourites by a narrow margin are Australia as home-soil team. Two-time winners South Korea will be giving Australia a fair go. Australia vs. South Korea match is Saturday, 17 January. 

GROUP B: As China is an emerging power in football and North Korea's FIFA world ranking continues to slide, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan are expected to prevail to the Knockout Stage.

GROUP C: The team to beat in Group C are three-time champions and FIFA world rankings 51st placed Iran. Iran was undefeated in the qualifying stage and are the highest number of points by FIFA world ranking than any other AC2015 team. 

GROUP D: Group D is the real mixed bag of teams -- Japan are champions and favourites, Palestine are Asian Cup first-timers, Iraq is said to be the unpredictable team of the tournament, and Asia's most improved team in the last 10 years Jordan. The real story to watch of Group D is that all four teams have new coaches which means points are up for grabs. 

The plot: East vs. West.

Eastern Asian teams Japan and South Korea are the dominant names in Asian football. The gulf states of Western Asia are pushing for new names to emerge. 

What One Goal is saying

We're following the 2015 AFC Asian Cup with fascination as these teams come from and represent some of the most malnourished nations in the world. What we will see at AC2015 is not just a battle of talent and skill made perfect by practice, but also champions who have overcome the impact of malnutrition that is affecting millions in their home countries. 

The One Goal campaign has a vision of contributing to healthier children, fans and football players across Asia. We hope the 2015 AFC Asian Cup can inspire better nutrition for every child in Asia.

Football in Asia

Despite the vastness and diversity of the region, there is one common pastime that can bring together the more than 4.6 billion people who live in the most populous region on earth, and this pastime is football. According to FIFA, Asia was home to 85 million football players in 2006. This exceeds by more than 20 million the number of people who play football in Europe, the continent perceived to be its traditional home. The number of Asian football players is also higher than the combined number of people playing football in the Caribbean and North, Central and South America combined.

Professional football leagues will continue to develop and there will be a steady shift in the primacy of professional football from Europe to Asia. This means that more Asians will increasingly be playing and watching football. On this basis, football is becoming even more central to Asian society and culture.

Following the Cup

AFC is posting AC2015 news by the minute on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow One Goal to watch the tournament through our eyes. 

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Sources: ESPNFC Football Asia blogsFIFA world rankings, Wikipedia: 2015 AFC Asian Cup, One Goal report: Fuelling Asia's Footballers for the Future

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