Oman bids to host 2019 Asian Cup

The Oman Football Association (OFA) has submitted its preliminary application to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to host the 2019 Asian Cup.

Oman has never organised the continental championship and last qualified for the Asian Cup in 2007.

Sheikh Hazzaa al Saadi, the OFA's CEO and general secretary, told Muscat Daily on Sunday, “We have officially applied to host the tournament. The Ministry of Sports Affairs has backed us and is keen to host top-class sports events.”

Oman is likely to face tough competition in the bidding process, with UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Lebanon, Bahrain and Thailand submitting their bids before the last date of submission on January 31.

Saadi said, “We still have six years to prepare for the event. It will be a big boost for us as infrastructure development is one of the main priorities to host it.”

He added, “With the government supporting our bid, if we manage to win the bid, then it will have a huge impact not only on the sports front, but also on the country's economy and tourism.

“The Asian Cup in Qatar is a good example and we hope Oman can also reap the same benefits with the 2019 Asian Cup.”

Oman has already won the hosting rights of the inaugural 2013 AFC U22 Championship finals, to be held in January 2014, while it will host the inaugural AFC U14 Asian Cup qualifiers in March this year.

Oman had successfully hosted the AFC U22 Group A qualifying round matches, involving six nations, from June 23-July 3, 2012.

40,000-capacity stadium required in Oman

Sheikh Hazzaa al Saadi, the OFA's CEO and general secretary, has said that Oman would need a stadium with a capacity of 40,000 spectators if it wins the right to host the 2019 Asian Cup.

Saadi said, “Oman will require a stadium that has a capacity of 40,000 so that it can host the opening ceremony, semifinals and the final [as per the AFC's requirements]. The Asian Cup requires a total of five stadiums, including the main one. The remaining four should have a minimum capacity of 20,000.”

At present, Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex has the maximum capacity of 27,000.

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