Thursday , February 22 2024

AFC’s Shaikh Salman – Asian Cup 2023 our crowning moment!

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has congratulated Qatar on creating history as the West Asians became only the fifth team to defend their AFC Asian Cup crown after defeating Jordan 3-1 in a pulsating Final at the Lusail Stadium on Saturday.

The AFC President said, “On behalf of the AFC, I would like to extend our wholehearted congratulations to Qatar on defending their Asian title and showcasing exceptional tenacity, consistency and quality over the last 30 days.”

“In their first ever Final, Jordan were worthy opponents, and both finalists were outstanding from start to finish, producing riveting moments that will live on long in our memories, and we must praise the Qatar Football Association and the Jordan Football Association for their dedication to elevate the beautiful game at all levels.”

“I am certain that the performances of both teams will serve to inspire the future generation of players, not only in their respective nations, but also across our great Continent.”

Shaikh Salman also reiterated his appreciation to the Qatar Football Association, the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 Local Organising Committee, and Qatari authorities for a spectacular tournament that will take its place as the most successful men’s flagship edition in history.

“From the FIFA World Cup venues, the world-class infrastructure, the seamless connectivity, the absorbing atmosphere all across the city of Doha, and unrivalled hospitality from the people of Qatar, the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 was unlike anything we have ever experienced or witnessed in the tournament’s proud history.”

“On behalf of the Asian football family, I would like to convey a big heartfelt thank you to the Qatar Football Association, the Local Organising Committee and the Qatari authorities for their exceptional hosting capabilities and for delivering a tournament that will go down as the greatest ever Asian football masterpiece,” added the AFC President.

“Qatar is undoubtedly one of the elite sporting destinations across the globe. Prior to the tournament, as hosts of the FIFA World Cup, expectations of Qatar were indeed high and understandably so, but I know I speak for everyone when I say Qatar have not just met those expectations, but far exceeded all our aspirations.”

New Digital Engagement, TV Viewership and Spectatorship Records

The AFC President also paid tribute to the absorbing and vibrant atmosphere created by the passionate fans of Asian football. The world’s largest football community turned up in droves to rally behind the Continent’s top 24 sides with more than 1.5 million supporters showcasing their fervour across the 51 matches, making the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 the most-attended showpiece in history.

Not only did the 18th edition of the tournament surpass the previous 1.04m attendance record, but it also saw the nine world-class stadiums achieve an average of 73% capacity – a 13% increase from the best-ever showing set in China PR in 2004. It was also the second attendance milestone to be broken after 82,490 fans set a new opening match record when Qatar defeated Lebanon at the Lusail Stadium.

At the same time, the preliminary digital engagement and broadcast figures have reaffirmed the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ as the most appealing edition in history, with digital impressions crossing the 5.5 billion mark and broadcast figures also poised to smash TV viewership records.

Shaikh Salman said: “The AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 has firmly cemented its place as the most engaging in history so from the bottom of my heart, I would like to put on record my sincere appreciation to all our fans as well as our dedicated volunteers for showcasing their enthusiasm and breathing life into the competition through their unprecedented support.”

Historic Performances by Asian Teams

Turning his attention to the pulsating action, Shaikh Salman also lauded the remarkable progress of Asian teams on the pitch. Four sides – Palestine, Syria, Indonesia and Tajikistan – reached the Knockout Stage for the first time – the highest number since the tournament transitioned from its round-robin format in 1972 – with Jordan reaching their first-ever Final and Tajikistan emerging as the first debutants since Australia in 2007 to reach the Quarterfinals.

The AFC President added: “For several years now, we have placed great emphasis on the need to narrow the gap between the traditional powerhouses and the emerging teams. Across the 51 matches, the level of intensity and determination displayed by all our teams was evident for all to see.”

“This was the driving force behind our decision to expand the tournament, to provide more Member Associations with the opportunity to compete at the highest level, and I firmly believe that the collective standards across Asian football are indeed strengthening.”

“Analysts and experts have been highlighting the exciting unpredictability of Asian football, but our teams have simply reinforced what the AFC has known all along, that there are no straightforward matches at this level and the outcome is never a foregone conclusion, firmly underscoring the high standards of the top-tier game in Asia.”

Shaikh Salman concluded, “Ultimately, the biggest victors were the entire Asian football family and our Member Associations, in particular, deserve our praise for their commitment to rise to the occasion and to produce the unrivalled moments that once again reinforced the rising standards of the Asian game.”

“And of course, we thank all our valued sponsors, our commercial and broadcast partners and our dear friends from the media for capturing the drama and excitement. Together, we delivered our finest hour, and in no uncertain terms, the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 is undoubtedly our crowning moment.”

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