The Subway Socceroos discovered their Group Stage opponents for the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ on Thursday evening (AEST) when the Final Draw for Asia’s top international football tournament took place in Doha, Qatar.
During the ceremony held at the Katara Opera House, Australia was pooled in Group B at next year’s tournament alongside Uzbekistan from Pot 2, Syria from Pot 3, and India from Pot 4.
The eagerly anticipated showpiece will be contested January 12 to February 10, 2024 and staged across eight stadiums, six of which were venues for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, namely: Al Janoub Stadium, Al Bayt Stadium, Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium, Al Thumama Stadium, Education City Stadium, Khalifa International Stadium as well as the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium and Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium.
The top two teams from each group and the four best third-placed teams from across the six groups will progress to the round of 16.
The Subway Socceroos will be seeking to continue their strong run of form in Doha during the AFC Asian Cup 2023, where the men’s national team reached the round of 16 at last year’s FIFA World Cup – defeated on that occasion 2-1 by the eventual World Champions, Argentina – and along the way became Australia’s most successful team at a men’s World Cup, winning two matches including two clean sheets.
Australia claimed their maiden AFC Asian Cup™ crown in 2015 on home soil when a goal in extra time of a thrilling Final helped lift the green and gold to victory over Korea Republic at a packed Stadium Australia in Sydney.
The 2023 tournament, being played in 2024 due the tournament being postponed because of challenges created by the COVID pandemic, will mark Australia’s fifth participation at the AFC Asian Cup Finals (2007, 2011, 2015, 2019).
Football Australia was represented at the Final Draw in Qatar by Chair Chris Nikou, CEO James Johnson, Subway Socceroos’ Head Coach Graham Arnold, and General Manager – National Teams, James Duvcevski.
Speaking directly after the Final Draw, Arnold said: “Obviously every draw is tough, but I’m very happy with that draw. Obviously having the familiarity of playing here in Qatar will help us as well.
“Asia has come a long way in football and in strength. We played Syria in World Cup qualifiers, we played Uzbekistan before, we are familiar with the way that they like to play, and we are looking forward to it.”
When commenting further on the Subway Socceroos familiarity with Qatar, Arnold said: “It’s been a home away from home for the Socceroos over the past couple of years due to COVID, but also with the World Cup qualifiers and the World Cup. We are very comfortable here (in Qatar), we are familiar with the stadiums, the surroundings, and we are looking forward to getting this Asian Cup underway.”
Comparing the preparations between the 2019 edition of the tournament and going into next year’s event, Arnold remarked: “Last time was with an older group of players and I had to find some youngsters. But this time we’re more settled as a group and I’ve been in the job now for nearly five years. So, I’m very familiar with all the players, what they expect from us, and my expectations from them. We’re going into this tournament with a great mindset and looking forward to doing well.”
Once released, the full AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 match schedule will be available HERE.