China and Iraq book Asian Cup spots

Organisers of AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 have welcomed China and Iraq’s success in qualifying for the biggest football tournament ever staged in Australia.

Organisers of AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 have welcomed China and Iraq-s success in qualifying for Asia-s biggest single-sport event and the biggest football tournament ever staged in Australia.

China secured a prized spot in its last qualifying match, losing 3-1 to Iraq but qualifying as the best third-placed team and thus extending its golden run of qualifying for 11 consecutive finals tournaments - a 100 per cent record since joining the Asian Football Confederation in 1974.

Iraq stormed home to qualify as the second-placed team in its group, ensuring that Australians will see the 2007 Asian champions next January.

China-s appearance Down Under is of special significance, given its huge TV audience and its strong economic and cultural links with Australia.

“We congratulate China on qualifying and stretching its magnificent record of appearances in the AFC Asian Cup finals,” Michael Brown, CEO of the AFC Asian Cup Local Organising Committee said.

“I can assure all Chinese and Iraqi fans the warmest of Australian welcomes awaits their national teams next summer, as it does for all 16 finalists.

“The Chinese have been central to Australia-s development as one of the most multi-cultural nations on earth, and we look forward to the vibrancy, passion and colour that China-s presence will bring to the 2015 Asian Cup.

“We aim to deliver a truly world-class event, and the participation of such a huge and influential country will help achieve our goal of enthusiastically celebrating Asia-s rich football culture.”

Minister for Citizenship and Communities Victor Dominello welcomed the qualification of China and Iraq.

“Of the 2.5 million Australians of Asian heritage, Chinese make up by far the biggest single group with more than 900,000 residents and almost half a million calling NSW home.

“I-ve spoken to a lot of members of the Chinese community who will be delighted that their team will play in Australia.

“The AFC Asian Cup presents a fantastic opportunity to bring our multicultural communities together to unite around their love of world game and we look forward to welcoming the 16 visiting teams next January,” Mr Dominello said.

Member for Oatley Mark Coure MP said the Australian-Chinese community in his electorate - the largest in the state - would be delighted with the news following last night-s qualifiers.

“I would like to congratulate the China National team on its success and I am confident the AFC Asian Cup will create a lasting legacy in NSW, boosting grassroots participation in football and encouraging people to embrace our state-s cultural diversity,” Mr Coure said.

Australia-s Asian Cup will have a potential TV reach of 2.5 billion people, thanks in no small part to China-s presence.

Around 300 million people tuned into broadcasts of China's World Cup matches in 2002, which reportedly sparked sales of a staggering 170 million new television sets.

When China hosted the Asian Cup in 2004, over 250 million viewers watched the home side lose the final to Japan, then the largest single-event sports audience in China-s history.

China is Australia-s main trading partner, with 27 per cent of total exports and 15 per cent of total imports in a two-way trade valued at $85 billion in 2009.

China has reached the Asian Cup semi-finals six times, and finished runner-up twice - to Saudi Arabia in 1984 and to Japan in 2004.

The path to the 2015 final will become clear for all 16 finalists when the final draw takes place at the Sydney Opera House on March 26 in a gala event that will be televised throughout Australia and the rest of Asia.

The 15 nations to qualify for AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 are Australia as hosts, defending champions Japan, Korea Republic and 2012 AFC Challenge Cup winners DPR Korea, along with recent qualifiers Bahrain, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and finally China and Iraq on the last match day.

The last spot will go to the winner of the AFC Challenge Cup, played in May.

The 16 finalists will take part in a 23-day festival of football in five cities which the Socceroos will kick off on January 9, 2015, in Melbourne, with the final set for Sydney-s Stadium Australia on January 31, 2015.

The tournament is being supported by the Australian Government and the NSW, Victorian, Queensland and ACT Governments.

Fox Sports will broadcast the AFC Asian Cup throughout Australia.

Tickets for AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 will be on sale in May 2014.

For more information on AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 visit