AFC President sends best wishes as Asia prepares for historic FIFA World Cup
Moscow: Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has hailed the remarkable rise of Asian football on the world stage and conveyed his best wishes to the five AFC teams as well as 16 match officials from Asia ahead of the eagerly-anticipated 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be a milestone tournament for Asia on many fronts. For the first time in FIFA World Cup history, Asia will be represented by a record five teams – Australia, Korea Republic, Japan, Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia will also become the first-ever Asian team to play in the opening match of a FIFA World Cup when they face hosts Russia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Thursday, June 14, 2018 at 5pm (local time).
The world’s most prestigious footballing spectacle will also witness its biggest-ever contingent of AFC match officials – five referees, 10 assistant referees and one video assistant referee making a total of 16 – set to feature at Russia 2018.
“The AFC’s historic five places in Russia demonstrate once again the significant progress of Asian football in the last few years. We must also acknowledge our match officials who continue to set new benchmarks of excellence in world refereeing.
“These achievements are testament to our Member Associations and reflect the success of our ambitions through our Vision and Mission to provide the support to Asian teams, players and officials to allow them to succeed on the world stage.
“On behalf of the Asian football family, I wish everyone representing the AFC – both teams and officials as well as staff seconded by FIFA – the success in Russia. I am confident they will do Asia proud and prove their ability to stand proud amongst the world’s elite.”
After Saudi Arabia play in the opening match, the Islamic Republic of Iran will continue Asia’s challenge in Russia, on June 15 at 6pm (local time) against Morocco in Group B at the Saint Petersburg Stadium. Meanwhile the Continent’s top-ranked side Australia will open their campaign against France in Group C the following day at the Kazan Stadium.
Korea Republic begin their journey against Sweden in Group F on Monday, June 18; 3pm at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium as Japan prepare to kick off the Group H action against Colombia at the Mordovia Arena in Saransk the next day on June 19 at 3pm.