Lusail Stadium, which staged the final of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, has been added to the host venue line-up for the 2023 Asian Cup having initially been omitted from the schedule.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the local organising committee announced today (Monday) that the 88,000-capacity Lusail Stadium will host the opening match and the final of the Asian Cup, which will take place from January 12 to February 10, 2024.
The opening match will see host nation and defending champion Qatar play Lebanon, with the kick-off moved to 7pm local time. The final will be held on February 10 at 6pm local time.
Lusail Stadium will be one of the largest venues in Asian Cup history, behind the 100,000-seat Aryamehr Stadium in Tehran and the 88,083-capacity Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta.
Lusail Stadium hosted 10 World Cup matches but was a surprise omission when the venues were confirmed for the Asian Cup back in April. Eight stadia were initially chosen, including six World Cup venues: Al Janoub Stadium, Al Bayt Stadium, Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium, Al Thumama Stadium, Education City Stadium and Khalifa International Stadium.
Stadium 974, a World Cup venue which is being dismantled following last year’s tournament, was also not included. The other two venues for the Asian Cup will be Jassim bin Hamad Stadium and Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium.
The AFC did not give a reason for Lusail Stadium’s late addition to the venue line-up, and none of the original eight venues will be making way.
The tournament will be officially known as the 2023 Asian Cup, even though the dates have been shifted to the start of 2024 in an effort to avoid the heat of the Gulf summer.
Qatar has replaced China as host of the Asian Cup after the latter relinquished its rights in May 2022 amid the continued challenges created by its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Qatar last hosted the tournament in 2011 and won the most recent edition in the United Arab Emirates.