Dubai: Footballing legend Zuhair Bakheet will play a central role as the focus of the Asian football community shifts its attention to the Armani Hotel Ballroom at the UAE’s iconic Burj Khalifa on Friday for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Final Draw.
Zuhair will be the link between the tournament that will kick off on January 5, 2019 and the last time the AFC Asian Cup was held in the UAE - 22 years ago when he was the Emirati's star striker.
Zuhair, who played in three Asian Cups as well as the FIFA World Cup in Italy in 1990, is a firm favourite with the local crowds after a stellar career with Dubai club Al Wasl. And again on Friday he will 'lead the line' when he heads a cast of legendary players from across Asia and the five AFC regions as well as the head coaches, officials and dignitaries from all 24 participating teams.
Four pots each containing six teams will be emptied by the draw assistants and placed into the six groups (Group A to F). Hosts UAE, who will occupy the first position in Pot 1, will kick-off the tournament on January 5, 2019 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium, which is also the venue where the ultimate champions of Asia will be crowned on February 1, 2019.
Joining the host nation in Pot 1 are three-time AFC Asian Cup champions, Islamic Republic of Iran, defending champions, Australia, and the tournament’s most successful nation, Japan as well as Korea Republic and Saudi Arabia.
The Final Draw will be hosted by leading sports broadcaster, John Dykes from the FOX Sports Network and will include the unveiling of the official mascot, the competition’s official match ball, to name but a few of the many thrilling activities.
In addition to revealing the latest match ball sponsors, the draw will also see several interactive activations by the AFC’s commercial partners, which include international tyre manufacturer Continental, renowned Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer and award-winning airline Emirates.
The biggest-ever AFC Asian Cup will host a total of 51 matches played in eight stadiums across four Host Cities - Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai and Sharjah - in 28 days of captivating action.