Paris: China will stage the 2023 Asian Cup after all the other countries in the running dropped their bids, the Asian Football Confederation confirmed on Tuesday, a possible dry-run for hosting a World Cup.
It will mark the second time China has hosted the quadrennial continental tournament, after the 2004 edition when they finished runners-up to Japan.
“It’s great for China, a great honour for China to be hosts of the 2023 Asian Cup. We are ready and confident of staging a successful tournament,” Chinese Fifa Council member Du Zhaocai said at the AFC Extraordinary Congress in Paris.
Last month South Korea abandoned their bid to stage the tournament, leaving China as the sole candidates with a free run to become hosts.
Thailand and Indonesia had also previously expressed interest in hosting the 2023 event, but had dropped out earlier.
China’s football fan President Xi Jinping has stated his aim for the country to stage the showpiece World Cup one day and wants the country to become a major force in the sport.
China, who have only qualified once for the World Cup in 2002, are ranked a lowly 74th in the world in Fifa’s rankings, sandwiched between Panama and Cape Verde. This year’s Asian Cup in the UAE was expanded to 24 nations for the first time with Qatar winning the final 3-1 against Japan.