AFC Asian Cup 2023 FAQ: Tournament Format, Favourites, and Wildcards

January 16, 2024

by xfcedi

son heung min south korea

By Eduard Bănulescu

The AFC Asian Cup 2023 has an important mission. Not only will it act as the stage for the continent’s best football teams, but It will need to keep up with the other international tournaments that are vying for the attention of numerous Asian football fans.

While it has its work cut out for itself, things are looking up for the AFC Asian Cup. Several world-class stars will be present; old rivalries are sure to light up, and good football is likely to be on display.

Here’s a short guide on everything you need to know about the AFC Asian Cup.

Where is the AFC Asian Cup 2023 being held?

Initially, China was slated to host the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. However, the nation was forced to relinquish its hosting rights to Qatar.

Qatar’s role as organizer of the 2022 World Cup was fundamental in the choice. And while the official moniker features the year “2023,” the games will be played from January 12 – February 10, 2024.

Matches will be held in eight venues across four cities with the opening game and the final being played at the Lusail Stadium and the final.

What are the AFC Asian Cup 2023 groups?

Group Teams
A Qatar, China, Tajikistan, Lebanon
B Australia, Uzbekistan, Syria, India
C Iran, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Palestine
D Japan, Indonesia, Iraq, Vietnam
E South Korea, Malaysia, Jordan, Bahrain
F Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, Oman

What’s the AFC Asian Cup competition format?

The final stage of the tournament will include 24 teams. These are drawn into six groups of four teams. The winners and runner-ups advance from each group. The four best third-placed teams also advance to the Round of 16 knockout stages.

Who are the AFC Asian Cup’s most famous players?

Over recent years, numerous Asian players have ended up playing for top European clubs.

Some of the biggest stars present at this year’s Asian Cup are: Son Heung-min, Takefusa Kubo, Kim Min-jae, Mehdi Taremi, Kaoru Mitoma, Waturo Endo.

Who are the favourites to win the AFC Asian Cup 2023?

This is the 18th edition of the Asian Cup. Over the years, there have been a number of serious upsets. However, on paper, some of the teams that have the greatest chance of winning the competition outright are:

Japan is the team that’s won the AFC Asian Cup the most – four times. Besides, the team performed excellently during the last World Cup tournament. The team also has a number of established players who are active in top European leagues. These include Takumi Minamino, Takehiro Tomiyasu, and Kyogo Furuhashi.

Qatar are the reigning champions. They hosted the last World Cup tournament and have proven themselves to be a relatively strong team when faced with high-calibre opposition. There have been great investments made in Qatari football over recent years.  A good performance in the AFC Asian Cup would help confirm the team’s rise.

Australia has traditionally been one of the most important teams in the region. They’ve qualified for the World Cup tournament six times. However, they have only won the Asian Cup once, back in 2015. They began their tournament with a 2-0 victory over India, which ought to make them feel confident about the rest of the tournament.

South Korea are another of the more successful teams taking part this year. Of course, the team also features a number of established stars, including, likely, the tournament’s most famous player, Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min. However, the squad also includes Bayern’s Min-jae Kim and PSG’s Kang-in Lee. With confidence building over recent years, the Koreans’ sole objective is to secure the winners’ medals.

Who are AFC Asian Cup’s wildcards?

Some of the teams worth keeping an eye out for potential surprises include:

Iran has a rich football history. In fact, by most standards, the team has been underperforming in recent decades. The team includes players like Sardar Azmoun or Mehdi Taremi, who could be one of the tournament’s dark horses.

Saudi Arabia will have their victory over Argentina at the most recent World Cup still fresh on their minds when they begin their Asian Cup campaign. Furthermore, the rise of the Saudi Pro League means that expectations back home will be for the team to perform to a high standard during their trip to Qatar.

What are some of the high-profile Asian teams that have not qualified for the final stage of AFC Asian Cup 2023?

The majority of established Asian teams have qualified for the tournament. Four of the teams that were present during the last competition but have not made it to the final stage this time include: Turkmenistan, Yemen, the Philippines, and North Korea. Kuwait has also failed to qualify.


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