THE United Arab Emirates will call the Gold Coast home as they prepare for AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015.
Swapping one sunny climate for another, the UAE should feel right at home as they set up their pre-competition camp at the height of Queensland’s summer.
UAE becomes the first team to base itself in the Sunshine State and the fifth to secure a pre-competition training site, joining Qatar (Canberra), Bahrain (Ballarat), China (Campbelltown) and Jordan (Melbourne).
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The Emirates team will arrive on the Gold Coast on December 23, 2014, giving itself more than two weeks to prepare for Asia’s premier tournament and the biggest football event ever held in Australia.
Michael Brown, CEO of the Asian Cup Local Organising Committee, said the UAE’s decision was a huge boost for the Gold Coast.
“I’m sure the Emirates players, management and team delegation will receive an enthusiastic reception, and that the people of the Gold Coast will reach out and adopt the UAE team,” Mr Brown said.
“With less than four months to go until kick-off, this is a timely reminder of how close we are to the first Asian Cup on Australian soil.
UAE will play its first two matches in Canberra – against Qatar on January 11 and Bahrain on January 15 – before completing its group matches in Brisbane against former champions Iran on January 19.
“I’m sure the people of the Gold Coast will support the UAE in their match in Brisbane,” Mr Brown said.
(Photo courtesy of William Burton)
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate (pictured above) said he was delighted at securing the UAE team for the training camp.
“As part of our inaugural Sports Plan, we’re striving to become a world leader in sports training destinations and this announcement is another step in the right direction,” Cr Tate said.
“Not only is the presence of an overseas sporting team beneficial to the local economy, it’s also a huge plus in promoting the city to potential visitors from that country.
“Since March this year, the sports training camps we’ve attracted have brought more than $3.6 million into the city. I look forward to welcoming the UAE team here in December.”
The AFC Asian Cup is Asia’s biggest football competition and was established in 1956.
The 16 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 Bahrain, China, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Palestine.
The 16 finalists will take part in a 23-day festival of football in five cities which the Socceroos will kick off against Kuwait on January 9, 2015, in Melbourne, with the final set for Sydney’s Stadium Australia on January 31, 2015.
The tournament is being financially 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 are on sale now.
For more information on AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 visit www.afcasiancup.com