Passionate fans and amateur footballers around the UAE are getting a taste of the AFC Asian Cup action ahead of the competition in January thanks to the popular Community Tournaments programme, which has attracted more than 1,200 participants and 96 teams for matches taking place across the four host cities - Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Al Ain.
The seven-a-side event sees teams organised by their representative nations, mirroring the format of the AFC Asian Cup. The top 24 qualifying teams are set to battle it out in a final, frenzied day of competition on January 19th for UAE bragging rights and the ultimate money-can’t-buy experience at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.
With over 650 goals scored through 144 games, the tournament has proven to be intensely competitive, with the UAE team from Sharjah emerging as tournament favourites after topping their group with three impressive wins and a tournament high of 21 goals. Teams representing Saudi Arabia, Philippines, India and Oman have also impressed, booking their tickets to the Asian Community Cup finals.
However, in keeping with the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 tournament slogan of “Bringing Asia Together”, friendships formed and memories made during the Community Tournament far outweigh the final score sheet in the minds of most.
Commenting on the tournament so far, UAE team member Yousef Alzaabi reflected: “The tournament is something special because you rarely get a chance to compete as a nation against other nations. People play with a special pride when they wear their national colors, but in the end everyone is friendly. We are living in a country where competition does not divide people, it brings them closer.”
Marketing and Communication Director for the Local Organising Committee, Ahmed Al Qubaisi, added: “The interest and participation in the Community Tournaments has far exceeded the expectations with so many people taking part in this fantastic competition.
“Through the Community Tournament, many different cultures have come together through their love of football and people have formed new friendships, meeting different groups as they represent their nation. The competition has been a great way to give football fans a taste of what is to come in January at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, for which we are very excited.”
The seven-a-side tournament consists of 25-minute games, with the final knockout stages of the competition scheduled to take place in Abu Dhabi on January 19th, with fans encouraged to attend and show their support in the battle for the best amateur team at the AFC Community Tournament.
There is also still time for fans to get behind their nation at the AFC Asian Cup, with tickets still available for a number of group matches, from just Dhs25. Supporters are advised to purchase tickets in advance to avoid disappointment, by visiting asiancup2019.com