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The magnificient Lusail Stadium, which hosted the Fifa World Cup final, will be hosting the opening match and the final of the AFC Asia Cup early next year. Image Credit: Supplied

Doha: Doha’s nine world-class stadiums will be once again witness top-class football during the AFC Asian Cup with the opening match and the final to take place in the magnificent Lusail Stadium.

Twenty four of continents best teams will be competing in six groups, with as many as three matches per day taking place during the group stage of the event to take place between January 12 and February 10. Qatar’s compact nature will mean that fans will be able to attend more than one match during a day, giving visiting spectators the ability to stay in one place of accommodation throughout the tournament.

Stadiums will come back to life

An updated match schedule sees both the opening and final matches taking place at the 88,000-seat Lusail Stadium, which famously hosted the final Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022, which saw Argentine legend Lionel Messi winning his maiden trophy after defeating France. Hosts Qatar will meet Lebanon in the opening match.

“The match schedule will see some exciting fixtures between Asia’s biggest teams. Once again, our stadiums will come to life with passion and excitement, as spectators from all around the continent will make their way to Qatar for the Asian Cup. We are thrilled to be hosting this prestigious tournament for a third time and are confident that this will be the best edition of the tournament thus far,” said Jassim Al Jassim, CEO of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 Local Organising Committee.

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Argentine legend Lionel Messi celebrates after guiding La Albiceleste to their win in the Fifa World Cup 2022 at Lusail Stadium. Image Credit: Fifa World Cup Twitter

Six other Qatar 2022 stadiums — Al Bayt, Al Janoub, Al Thumama, Ahmad Bin Ali, Education City and Khalifa International — will host matches during the tournament. The venues will be joined by Jassim bin Hamad and Abdulla bin Khalifa, homes to Qatar Stars League sides Al Sadd SC and Al Duhail SC respectively.

Qatar's unbeaten run

Qatar previously hosted Asia’s premier footballing competition in 1988 and 2011. The defending champions Qatar, who lifted the trophy after going on an unbeaten run in 2019, will be keen on retaining their title on home soil. The Ennabi were drawn into group A alongside China, Tajikistan and Lebanon.

The UAE open their campaign against Hong Kong on January 14 (Group C) at the Khalifa International Stadium while the previous day India, who have a huge following in the region, will take on Australia (Group B) at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.

The top two teams from each group as well as the four best third place teams will compete in the round of 16, which will start on January 28. The final match will take place on February 10 at Lusail Stadium, 6pm kickoff.