Countdown on to Asian Cup

The countdown is on to AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015, with today marking two years until the jewel in the crown of Asian football begins in Australia.

The countdown is on to AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015, with today marking two years until the jewel in the crown of Asian football begins in Australia.

AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 Local Organising Committee Chief Executive Officer Michael Brown was joined by Federal Minister for Sport Kate Lundy, Minister for Youth Peter Garrett and local junior footballers to mark the milestone.

“Preparations for AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 are ramping up and 2013 is an important year for us to raise awareness, engage with the community and finalise the venues and the match schedule for the tournament,” Brown said.

“With the qualifying matches beginning next month, on February 6, the look of the tournament will start to take shape.

“The Local Organising Committee (LOC) has been up and running for almost 12 months and activity is building up every week.

“We are working closely with the Asian Football Confederation to ensure Australia hosts a world-class event which celebrates football and continues Australia-s reputation for sporting event excellence.

“The LOC has had great support from the Federal and Queensland, NSW, ACT and Victorian Governments, who are providing funding for the tournament.”

The AFC Asian Cup, to be staged in Australia for the first time in January 2015, will be the largest football event ever held in Australia.

"Our vision is to deliver a world-class event that celebrates Asia's rich football culture and leaves an enduring legacy for the game in Australia," Brown said.

"This presents an outstanding opportunity for Australia to strengthen our cultural, social and economic ties with Asia, including some of our most important trading partners.

“The Federal Government-s Asian Century White Paper acknowledged the power of sport to bridge language and cultural barriers and serve as a platform to build relationships.

“It confirms that events like the Asian Cup offer opportunities for Australia to build on our international reputation for delivering major sporting events, and to promote Australian tourism, trade and other interests in Asia.

"We-re expecting about 45,000 international visitors to come to Australia for the event. More than 500 million people watched the tournament in Qatar in 2011 and in 2015 the Asian Cup will have a potential audience of 2.5 billion."

Matches in the 16-nation tournament will be played in Queensland, NSW, ACT and Victoria with the final in Sydney. Venues for the event will be announced in the coming months.

Australia, Japan, Korean Republic and DPR Korea have already qualified.

The tournament is the pinnacle for the 47 nations of the AFC who represent half the world-s population and some of the most passionate football fans anywhere.

The AFC Asian Cup 2015 is being jointly-funded by the Australian Government and the Queensland, NSW, ACT and Victorian governments.