"Football unites us and reaffirms our solidarity in the values of fair play, sportsmanship and equality that it imparts," added HE Al Romaithi.
Mr. Gyu expressed his sentiments on the tournament, and his delight to witness Abu Dhabi hosting the first event of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 final qualifiers, represented by the draw ceremony of the final qualifying round and the logo unveil.
"The AFC Asian Cup 2019 in the UAE will be historic, with the participation of 24 teams for the first time in the history of this prestigious tournament, which is now the main focus of the media and the audiences who are keen on supporting their teams in the games which will take place in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai and Sharjah." He said.
He further highlighted the UAE's preparedness to host Asia's largest football tournament - "I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Higher Local Organising Committee for its contribution to hosting this event, and for generously supporting the AFC delegation during its ongoing visits to the stadiums where the games will take place and the hotels where they will stay. The preparations for the final tournament are also well under way, compliments for that."
For the first time, the Asian Cup final tournament will be contested by 24 teams, having been expanded from the 16-team format that had been used since 2004. Today's draw event selected six groups consisting of four teams.
The draw event was conducted by Mr. Shin Man Gil, Director of AFC Competitions and the groups are as follows:
Group A Group B Group C Group D Group E Group 4
A1 - Kyrgyz B1 - DPR Korea C1 - Jordan D1 - Oman E1 - Bahrain F1 -
A2 - India B2 - Hong Kong C2 - Vietnam D2 - E2 - F2 -
Palestine Turkmenistan Tajikistan
A3 - Myanmar B3 - Lebanon C3 - D3 - E3 - Chinese F3 - Yemen
Afghanistan Maldives Taipei
A4 - Macau B4 - Malaysia C4 - D4 - Bhutan E4 - Singapore F4 - Nepal
The matches will be played between March 28th, 2017 and until March 27th, 2018 based on the two-phase league system (first leg and second leg). Winners and runners-up of each group will qualify for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 finals (a total of 12 teams), to join 12 teams which are already qualified: the UAE (host country), Australia, China PR, Iraq, IR Iran, Japan, Korea Republic, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Thailand and Uzbekistan.
The finals in 2019 will be played in eight stadiums: Zayed Sports City Stadium, Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium (Abu Dhabi), Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium, Hazza bin Zayed Stadium (Al Ain), Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium (Al Shabab Club), Al Maktoum Stadium (Al Nasr Club) and Sharjah Stadium (Sharjah).
AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™ Logo
This dynamic logo was inspired by thousands of years of Islamic art, this is represented and embodied through the pattern which forms the core of the logo. The interlacing hexagons signify the UAE's cultural heritage of weaving - the time old tradition of using Saf (palm leaves) to produce objects of beauty still seen today.
The colour palette consisting of black, green, red and white honours the UAE's beloved flag. The coloured ribbons are bound together to create seven hexagons, each hexagon symbolizes one of the seven UAE Emirates that came together in harmony to form the spirit of the union 45 years ago.
The outer circle embraces geometric design creating a tribute to the great game of football that is set to unite the Asian continent, here in the UAE.
The AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019TM takes place in Abu Dhabi, Al-Ain, Dubai and Sharjah in January 2019.
SOURCE AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019