Two-time AFC Asian Cup winner and three-time AFC Player of the Year, Majed Abdullah along with the Local Organising Committee (LOC) Tournament Director, H.E. Aref Hamad Al Awani, AFC General Secretary, Dato’ Windsor John, UAE General Secretary Mohammad Bin Hazam Al Dhaheri, Anne-Claire Richomme Bergoffen, Marketing Director and Area Sales TAG Heuer Middle East, were joined by delegates from each of the 24 competing nations to mark the 100-day countdown with the unveiling of a ceremonial countdown clock next to Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City stadium in the UAE.
The ceremony was held in conjunction with a two-day Team’s Workshop currently taking place in the UAE, which aims to equip all 24 participating teams with the necessary tools to ensure a successful tournament through a series of sessions for team managers, doctors and officials, covering essential matters such as sports integrity, refereeing, media, team services as well as medical information, among others.
Speaking at the countdown, AFC General Secretary, Dato’ Windsor John said: “Today, we celebrate another historic moment in the glorious journey of the Asian Cup – the 100-day countdown to the best and biggest-ever tournament to date.
“We are all determined to ensure that the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 will be the greatest tournament, not only with its scope and scale, but in its impact across the globe.
“With the expansion to 24 competing nations, I am confident that we will write a new chapter and usher a new era of success for Asian football.”
The countdown event arrives at the peak of engagement activities led by the LOC and AFC to capture the imagination of passionate fans and to enhance the profile of the historic tournament through a series of vibrant and interactive campaigns.
Last week, the call for volunteers was met by more than double the expected response, while the Playmakers Programme for community ambassadors and influencers also continues to grow well beyond its initial projected 100 target, with over 240 individuals now close to representing all 24 of the competing nations.
Excitement had been building through UAE malls and community hotspots via the highly- successful interactive roadshow and this month an entertaining schools programme was launched to reach students and families with the tournament’s slogan of “Bringing Asia Together”.
The LOC Tournament Director H.E. Aref Hamad Al Awani commented: “It is an honour for the UAE to be welcoming so many nations and fans from Asia for the biggest-ever AFC Asian Cup.
“The UAE is home to almost 200 different nationalities, so it is the perfect opportunity for football enthusiasts to come support their nation and catch world-class competition live across four different host cities and cheer with other fans from every part of Asia.”
The significance of the expanded tournament and the tournament’s unifying message was reinforced by one of its most decorated heroes in Saudi Arabian and Asian legend Majed Abdullah who added: “The Asian Cup has given me some of my best footballing memories. A tournament on this scale brings people together like nothing else.
“With 24 teams, fans around the world will have a chance to see not only the perennial powers, but the rising nations and young stars who will raise the level of Asian football to the next level.”
UAE General Secretary Mohammad Bin Hazam Al Dhaheri commented: “It gives me a great honour to invite all nations to come to the UAE and be part of the 17th edition of the AFC Asian Cup.
“This historic tournament will be a resounding success and we look forward to welcoming everybody this January.”
With just over three months to go to the 51-game tournament, supporters can still purchase tickets for games with prices from Dhs25. To purchase tickets and for more information on the tournament please visit: http://www.afcasiancup2019.com.