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Hong Kong’s Ju Yingzhi (right) passes the ball as India’s Jeakson Singh Thounaojam closes in at Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata, India, during their last Group D Asian Cup qualifier on June 14, 2022. Photo: HKFA

Asian Cup: Japan officials say there is ‘little chance’ of country hosting the 2023 tournament

  • Deadline for submission of bids is in two days and Japan had previously been said to be interested
  • But Japan Football Association technical director says while it was being considered it wasn’t likely

Japanese football chiefs said there was “little chance” they would bid to replace China as hosts of next year’s Asian Cup, two days before the deadline to declare interest.

South Korea has already submitted an official bid to the Asian Football Confederation to host the 24-team competition, scheduled for June and July 2023.

When asked if the Japan Football Association planned to bid, JFA technical director Yasuharu Sorimachi told reporters “we are considering it but there is little chance”.

Mikael Severo celebrates after putting Eastern ahead with a header in the first half against Tainan City. Photo: Eastern

China was expected to host the tournament but pulled out in May because of challenges related to its strict zero-Covid strategy.

The AFC invited new bids to host the quadrennial competition and set a deadline of June 30, which was then extended until July 15.

Japan, who have won the Asian Cup four times, last hosted the tournament in 1992. South Korea has not hosted the Asian Cup since 1960, the only time it has staged the event.

Covid restrictions have pushed China off the global sporting map.

In May, organisers of the Olympic-sized Asian Games, scheduled to be held in September in Hangzhou, postponed the event over logistical problems caused by Covid.

The World University Games, originally set to be held in Chengdu in June, were also postponed for a second time because of “continued uncertainty over conditions”.

Separately, Eastern Long Lions will find out on Thursday who they face in the next stage of the AFC Cup.

The much-anticipated draw will reveal the potential hosts for the zonal finals and inter-zone play-offs with the first team drawn (Team A) from the West, Central and Asean Zones as well as the inter-zone play-off pots hosting the respective matches.

Meanwhile, PFC Sogdiana from Uzbekistan, who won all their matches in Group E, and Group F winners FC Khujand from Tajikistan will occupy the Central Zone pot.

In the Asean Zone pot, two balls will be drawn – winners of the Asean zonal semi-finals – which will be confirmed when PSM Makassar of Indonesia take on Kedah Darul Aman of Malaysia on August 9 followed by Vietnam’s Viettel FC squaring off with Kuala Lumpur City the following day.

The South Zonal winners ATK Mohun Bagan from India and the East Zonal champions Eastern Long Lions from Hong Kong have their names in the inter-zone play-off pot alongside the winners from the Central and Asean Zonal Finals to be decided on August 17 and 24 respectively.

After intense battles in the knockout rounds, the West Zone Final winners will face the inter-zone final champions and hosts of the anticipated AFC Cup 2022 Final on October 22 where the champion will be crowned.