Four nations to co-host 2007 event
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) yesterday confirmed that the 2007 Asian Cup would be the largest scale example of co-hosting in the history of international football.
As expected the AFC's Executive Committee decided that four Southeast Asian nations - Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia - would share the right to hold the event. Such a co-hosting arrangement is unprecedented. In what is a recent phenomenon Ghana and Nigeria and Belgium and the Netherlands have both staged continental championships while Japan and South Korea were the venues for the only shared World Cup in 2002.
'We understand it will need too much logistical support, but we accept this challenge,' said AFC president Mohammed bin Hammam, without offering much further detail. The AFC did not officially confirm the four venue cities, believed to include Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Bangkok, because both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City remain in contention in Vietnam.
Equally the AFC have not decided which country will stage the opening match or the final, which is surprising considering the ill feeling that emerged between South Korea and Japan over the same issue prior to the 2002 World Cup.
All four nations, whose teams are among the weakest in Asia, will gain automatic entry to the 16-nation tournament, leaving 12 places to be contested in qualifying rounds.