Hundreds of football enthusiasts have kicked-off celebrations for the 2019 Asian Cup, being entertained by football freestylers and taking part in a number of interactive football activities at Dubai Mall.
Adding to the excitement, the first 50 fans who visited the interactive roadshow scored an extra treat, receiving tickets for selected group stage matches during the competition.
The roadshows, which will tour the UAE in multiple venues across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain in the build up to next year’s tournament, will give visitors the chance to be part of the action in the months leading up to it.
As an extra incentive for football fans on Friday, August 31, the roadshow will be free of charge all day, with a nominal Dh25 fee to be instituted for the five remaining days, but with all attendees receiving a match ticket as part of the experience.
Speaking at the Dubai Mall roadshow, Indian football fan Vedant, aged eight, was one of the first people to experience the immersive activity. “I’m a huge football fan so couldn’t wait to take part in the interactive roadshow. I love everything about football and enjoyed the augmented reality experience a lot. I can’t wait for the AFC Asian Cup games.”
The roadshow gives fans a chance to learn, play, show off their skills and engage with cutting-edge VR technology in three distinct zones of engagement: the Virtual Zone, Skills Zone and Victory Zone.
Throughout each of the days, the Virtual Zone educates fans about the stars and history of the Asian Cup tournament, bringing visitors on a journey across the UAE host cities via VR headsets.
The Skills Zone welcomes fans of all footballing abilities, letting them tackle a series of accelerating challenges in a fun football simulator.
The Victory Zone features multiple interactive games that allow visitors to channel their passion through augmented reality by running, cheering or acting as a spokesperson on behalf of your favorite team.
Supporters attending any of the roadshows can add to their excitement for the tournament online, sharing their experiences through social media, using #AsianCup2019 to join in the conversation.
Tickets are available to purchase online via www.afcasiancup2019.com. Everyone taking part in the roadshows can select tickets for any of the first-round group stage games, excluding the opening game between the UAE and Bahrain.
Interactive roadshow dates and venues:
Dubai Mall Dubai 26 Aug-1 Sept; Al Wahda Mall Abu Dhabi 6-8 Sept; Dalma Mall Abu Dhabi 6-15 Sept; Zero-6 Al Ain 13-15 Sept; Deerfields Mall Abu Dhabi 20-22 Sept; Mega Mall Sharjah 20-27 Sept; Mushrif Mall Abu Dhabi 27-29 Sept; Barari Outlet Mall Al Ain 10-12 Oct; Marina Mall Abu Dhabi 11-13 Oct; Al Raha Gardens Plaza Abu Dhabi 14-16 Oct; Abu Dhabi Mall Abu Dhabi 18-20 Oct; Dubai Fitness Challenge Dubai 19-20 Oct; Herriott Watt University Dubai 22-23 Oct; Yas Mall Abu Dhabi 1-7 Nov; Dubai Fitness Challenge Dubai 2-3 Nov; Dubai Fitness Challenge Dubai 9-10 Nov; Ibn Battuta Mall Dubai 12-14 Nov; Dubai Fitness Challenge Dubai 16-17 Nov; Etihad Plaza Abu Dhabi 22-24 Nov; Nations Galleria Abu Dhabi 29 Nov-4 Dec; Dubai Rugby 7s Dubai 29 Nov-1 Dec; Al Majaz Park Sharjah 4-5 Dec; Al Qasba Sharjah 11-13 Dec; Mubazarah Park Al Ain 13-18 Dec; Global Village Dubai 15-18 Dec; City Fan Zone Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi 26 Dec-3 Jan; AFC Asian Cup Fan Zone UAE 5 Jan-1 Feb.
The “Korean Hiddink” stands between Son Heung-min and South Korea taking another step towards retaining their Asian Games title – and earning Tottenham forward Son and his teammates exemption from compulsory military service.
The South Korean government rewards Asian Games gold medals and Olympic medals of any kind with an exemption from the country’s compulsory 21-month military service.
Failure to win a gold medal in Indonesia will likely mean that the 26-year-old Son will have to return to South Korea within the next two years to perform his national duty.
And the possible severe interruption to his Premier League career is perhaps why Spurs have allowed the talented star to compete in Indonesia despite the league season just kicking off in England.
Son has been given leave from Spurs to take part as one of three overage players each team is allowed.
If the Taegeuk Warriors are to reach the final, however, and avoid military service then they will have to get past Vietnam and a familiar face on Wednesday.
Korean coach Park Hang-seo, a member of Guus Hiddink’s coaching staff at the 2002 World Cup when South Korea reached the semi-finals, is coaching Vietnam.
Korea’s unlikely run to the semis in a 2002 World Cup it co-hosted with Japan had millions of fans pouring onto the streets in cities across the country to celebrate victories.
Park’s success with Vietnam has sparked similar scenes in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and elsewhere when he took the national team to the final of Asia’s Under-23 championship in January.
At the Asian Games, Vietnam’s ‘Golden Stars’ have reached the last four and once more fans at home are getting excited – sparked by the man referred to as the “Korean Hiddink”.
“Back then (in 2002) I was an assistant coach, but now I’m a head coach,” Park said after Vietnam’s 1-0 extra-time quarter-final win over Syria set up a semi-final with the Koreans.
“We stopped in the semi-finals in 2002. But now we’ll not stop in the semi-finals.”
The semi provides Park with a reunion with former K-League coaching counterpart Kim Hak-bom, now leading Korea’s Under-23s.
“I’ve known him since the K-League days and we’re sharing the same hotel,” Park said. “As you know, he is such a good tactician – he’s known as ‘(Alex) Ferguson of the K-League.’”
“I really love my country, but now I’m head coach of the Vietnamese national team. I’m having a good time with Vietnam and I’m enjoying my work.”
Son, meanwhile, skipped the 2014 Asian Games on home soil, when the South Koreans won the gold medal.
He missed Korea’s opener here but came on as a replacement in a surprising group-stage loss to Malaysia, before scoring in the deciding group game to ensure his team progressed to the knockouts.
The title defense was touch and go on Monday, with Korea trailing 3-2 against Uzbekistan with 15 minutes of the quarter-final remaining.
Hwang Ui-jo, the tournament’s leading scorer, completed his hat-trick to equalise at 3-3 and take the game into extra-time, and Hwang Hee-chan then slotted home a penalty with two minutes remaining to send the South Koreans into the semis.
Now Son and Co must overcome a determined and disciplined Vietnam team coached by a man who knows Korean football extremely well.
“I’m trying to pass on my knowledge and football philosophy to this team,” Park said of his strategy with Vietnam. “I always emphasise to the team that it’s not about me, but it’s about us.”
The winner will face either Japan or the UAE in the final on September 1.
Organisers of the 2019 Asian Cup have launched a new nationwide campaign aimed at inspiring women across the UAE to fulfill their potential in the community.
Whether through sport or local initiatives, women in the Emirates are making positive change and are increasingly regarded as role models for the future.
The campaign, which continues the theme of the AFC’s highly-successful ‘It’s My Game’ movement is the first of its kind in the west zone and will feature stories of real women involved in sport and the community, from players to doctors, marketers to managers, referees, photographers, coaches and more.
AFC general secretary Dato’ Windsor John said: “Women’s football represents an essential pillar for the AFC and is an important part of the future success of Asian football.
“As we have witnessed through the ‘It’s My Game campaign,’ we will continue to invest in their development to fulfil our vision and mission in expanding the reach of the game and to empower communities of all nationalities, ages, and backgrounds.
“There is no better platform to showcase and celebrate the inspiring role of women than through Asia’s most prestigious and biggest-ever football tournament.”
The campaign also aims to encourage conversations with the next generation on the prospects of pursuing a career in sport as well as leveraging the power of sport to empower the community.
Launched in conjunction with Emirati Women’s Day, the initiative will collaborate with inspirational women who represent a broad spectrum of nationalities and work in a variety of sporting and community positions.
To commemorate the moment, they posed for striking and powerful images showcasing the diversity of women who are part of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 campaign.
Speaking on the launch of the campaign, tournament director Aref Al Awani said: “Our ambition is to show the next generation of women how to play a role in shaping the community and support sport in the UAE.
“That is why we are launching a campaign that will see us embark on a wide listening and learning exercise, where we introduce women to the massive opportunities of careers in sport or helping the community.
“What better way to launch this campaign than by capturing the women right now in the UAE working in sports and community roles. Young women can aspire to be involved through powerful imagery that shows them as they are – real, inspirational and lifting the UAE to new heights.”
Dr Reema Al Hosani, chief medical officer of the Asian Cup and one of the female figures involved in the launch shoot, was full of excitement for what lies ahead.
“This campaign is all about uncovering and celebrating the real stories of women excelling in the UAE,” she said.
“Over the next three months we have a brilliant opportunity to drive forward the agenda and showcase how women are making change. What a fantastic legacy that would be for the 2019 Asian Cup.”