After three years of riveting drama and excitement, the race to the upcoming edition of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup will reach its decisive stage on Wednesday, June 8 as Asia’s 24 remaining contenders begin their quest to secure the final 11 spots at the Continent’s pinnacle national team stage.
Raising the stakes, the 2023 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers Final Round will see fierce battles and old rivalries restored across six centralised venues – Kuwait (Group A), Mongolia (Group B), Uzbekistan (Group C), India (Group D), Malaysia (Group E) and Kyrgyz Republic (Group F) where Asia’s hopefuls will battle across three Matchdays on June 8, 11 and 14.
Kuwait, the only former champions in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers Final Round, will open their Group A campaign against Indonesia at the Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait City at 7:15pm (UTC+3) before Jordan take on Nepal at the same venue three hours later.
Meanwhile in Group B, the MFF Stadium in Ulaanbaatar will set the stage for the battle of the 2019 debutants as Philippines prepare to challenge Yemen at 12:30pm (UTC+8) before the attention shifts to home side Mongolia, who will be eyeing a strong start in their attempt to secure their maiden place at the AFC Asian Cup when they face Palestine at 5pm.
Thailand will kick off the Group C action against Maldives at the Markaziy Stadium in Namangan at 5pm (UTC+5) while Uzbekistan, who have qualified for every edition of the AFC Asian Cup since 1996, will be looking for a winning start when they host Sri Lanka at 8:30pm.
The Kolkata-based Group D will see Hong Kong open their campaign against Afghanistan at 5pm (UTC+5:30) at the Saltlake Stadium before Igor Stimac’s India host Cambodia at the same venue at 8:30pm.
Bahrain and Bangladesh will face off in their Group E opener at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur at 5:15pm (UTC+8) before Malaysia, who will be hoping to make the most of their home ground advantage under new head coach Kim Pan-gon, take on Turkmenistan at 9pm.
Finally in the Bishkek-based Group F, Tajikistan will battle Myanmar at the Dolen Omurzakov Stadium at 4:30pm (UTC+6) while hosts Kyrgyz Republic and Singapore set their sights on the crucial opening three points at 8pm.
The six group winners and five best second-placed teams will join 2015 winners Australia, China, Iran, Iraq, four-time champions Japan, South Korea, Lebanon, Oman, defending champions Qatar, three-time title holders Saudi Arabia, Syria and 2019 hosts United Arab Emirates as well as Vietnam in the Finals.