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China had been due to host the 2023 Asian Cup, but withdrew over Covid-19 fears. Photo: AFP

2023 Asian Cup: South Korea, Australia, Indonesia, Qatar, all bidding to host tournament after China pulls out

  • Asian Football Confederation says deadline for four associations to submit bid documents is August 31
  • Australia previously said it was unlikely to bid unless the dates were changed because tournament will clash with women’s World Cup

South Korea, Australia, Indonesia and Qatar have submitted ‘expressions of interest’ to replace China as hosts of next year’s Asian Cup, the Asian Football Confederation said on Monday.

The deadline for the four associations to submit their bid documents has been set for August 31, and the AFC’s executive committee will announce the new host on October 17, it said.

China had been expected to host the 24-team event, scheduled for June and July next year, but the country’s efforts to follow a zero-Covid policy resulted in it being moved.

Hong Kong’s Asian Cup finals spot revives memory of 1975 penalty heartbreak

Hong Kong have reached the tournament for the first time in 54 years after finishing second in their group during a qualifier in India.

South Korea won the inaugural Asian Cup in 1956 and retained the trophy as hosts four years later - the only time they staged the finals. The country has not staged a major tournament since co-hosting the World Cup with Japan in 2002.

Australia, Asian Cup winners in 2015, already has a busy 2023 planned as co-hosts of the Women’s World Cup with New Zealand. That tournament starts on July 20 next year.

Football Australia chief executive James Johnson said earlier this month the governing body had consulted with the AFC to consider moving the Asian Cup to later in the calendar to avoid a clash with the World Cup, and would was unlikely to bid if that didn’t happen.

Wong Wai (left) celebrates after putting Hong Kong ahead in their Group D game against Afghanistan on June 8. Photo: Handout

“The important thing for us is when the competition is going to be played,” Johnson said. “At the moment, it’s expected to be played in the middle of 2023.

“That just doesn’t work for us because we’re hosting the Women’s World Cup around the same time, so we are talking to AFC about whether or not they would be open to a January or February 2024.

“If that’s a possibility, then it’s something that we would explore in a meaningful way.”

Qatar will stage the men’s World Cup this year from November 21 to December 18. They have hosted the Asian Cup twice, in 1988 and 2011, and won the tournament in 2019.

Indonesia were one of four co-hosts of the 2007 Asian Cup and exited in the group stage - their best finish in the tournament.

Japan’s Football Association confirmed in May they had been informally approached about the possibility of replacing China as hosts, but technical director Yasuharu Sorimachi told local media earlier this month there was little chance of it bidding.