Doha, Qatar: Qatar will be in the spotlight again as it hosts the future stars of the continent with the 16-team AFC U23 Asian Cup just less than a week away from the kick off on April 15.

Excitement is building up ahead of the tournament as teams have started arriving in Doha with Jordan, Tajikistan, and Malaysia already descended upon the Qatari capital.

Qatar, which hosted the best-ever AFC Asian Cup a couple of months ago, is hosting the premier continental U23 competition for the second time having staged it in 2016.

The tournament, which will conclude on May 3 with the final, will witness a total of 32 matches to be played at Jassim Bin Hamad, Al Janoub, Abdullah Bin Khalifa and Khalifa International stadiums. It’s the first the tournament is played on World Cup venues.

Saudi Arabia, who defeated Uzbekistan 2-0 in the final two years ago, will defend their title while Iraq (2013), Japan (2016) Uzbekistan (2018) and South Korea (2020) are the other former champions taking part in the event. The tournament will serve as a qualifying event for Paris Olympics as top three sides will confirm their berths for this year’s Games while the fourth placed team will take on a side from Africa in a play-off.

Hosts Qatar conclude training camp

Hoping to emulate the senior national team that won Asian Cup title for second consecutive time in February, Qatar U23 side underwent strenuous preparation under Portuguese coach Ilidio Vale for weeks ahead of the tournament.

They wrapped up their training camp with a 1-0 victory over Malaysia on Sunday night with rising star Ahmed Al Rawi scoring the winner. Qatar also played friendlies against Uzbekistan and China in the build-up.

The home team will open their campaign with a match against Indonesia on the opening day at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium after Australia and Jordan will square off in first Group A game at Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium.

The Group B includes Japan, South Korea, United Arab Emirates and China while Group C comprises Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Thailand and Tajikistan. Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Kuwait and Malaysia will battle in Group D. The top two sides from each group will advance to the quarters to be played on April 25 and 26 while the semi-finals are scheduled three days later.

Meanwhile, Executive Vice President of the AFC U-23 Football Championship Qatar 2024 told QNA that tickets sale, which started on Friday, is receiving overwhelming response from fans.

He added the Local Organising Committee’s preparation to host the successful edition is on track, hoping to set new benchmark in organisation of the tournament. The minimum price of group stage tickets is QR15, which can be purchased online through the Hayya to Qatar mobile app.

Qatar squad: Amir Hassan (Al Arabi), Ali Nader (Al Khor), and Youssef Abdullah (Al Sadd ), Abdullah Al Ali, Ahmed Al Rawi, Nayef Al Hadrami, Tamim Mansour Muftah (Al Rayyan), Jassim Jaber (Al Arabi), Abdullah Al Yazidi, and Mustafa Tariq (Al Sadd), Abdullah Youssef and Saif Al Din Fadlallah (Al Gharafa), Fares Saeed and Lotfi Majer (Al Duhail), Khaled Ali and Nabil Arfan (Al Wakrah), Jassim Al Sharshani, Issa Al Najjar, and Mohamed Ayyash (Al Ahli ), Mahdi Salem (Al Shamal), Mohamed Mannai (Al Markhiya), Mohamed Khaled, Al Hashemi Al Hussein, and Mubarak Shanan (Calhora, Spain).

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