MUSCAT, OCT 25
Two-time champions Oman were drawn in the Group A of the 25th Arabian Gulf Cup along with hosts Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
The draw for the prestigious Gulf event was held in southern Iraqi city of Basra on Tuesday.
The Group B included Asian champions and World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar, defending champions Bahrain, UAE and 10-time champions Kuwait.
The eight participating teams will compete for the title of the tournament that will take place from January 6 to 19, 2023.
The draw ceremony was attended by Qatar Football Association (QFA) President and Chairman of Arab Gulf Cup Football Federation (AGCFF) Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed al Thani, Iraqi Minister of Youth and Sports Adnan Dirjal, Governor of Basra Asaad Abdulameer Al Eidani, AGCFF Secretary-General Jassim al Rumaihi and other representatives of the participating nations.
The official mascot for the 25th edition of Gulf Cup, Sindbad, was also unveiled on the occasion.
Iraq will host the tournament for the second time in its history after the first in 1979, when it hosted the fifth edition in the capital, Baghdad, at the Al Shaab International Stadium, and was crowned with its title.
The 24th edition, which was held in Qatar in 2019, was initially scheduled for Iraq but was shifted to Doha due to security reasons.
The Arab Gulf Cup Federation approved the international stadiums of Basra and Al Mina to hold the matches of the tournament from January 6 to
AGCFF Secretary-General Jassim al Rumaihi had earlier assessed the preparation for the much-followed tournament in Iraq.
"Preparations in Iraq are in full swing to host the tournament, which will be a Gulf carnival. The Arab Gulf Cup Football Federation is confident of a successful tournament in Iraqi city of Basra,” Al Rumaihi had said.
The Arab tournament was initially set to take place in December of this year but was pushed back as Qatar World Cup came in the same period.
Instead, the tournament will kick off in January 2023 for the second time in Iraq since 1979.
Ahead of Iraq’s return to hosting the tournament, AGCFF chief Shaikh Hamad al Thani travelled to Iraq to review the preparations.
The Arab Gulf Cup Football Federation had given the green light for the tournament after the assessment of the stadiums and other facilities in Iraq.
Al Minaa Olympic Stadium is set to be the city’s new 30,000-seater stadium, with two other venues hosting the regional as well.
Basra International Stadium will invite 65,000 spectators, and a secondary stadium of 10,000 onlookers will be used for team training and friendlies.
From Oman, the draw was attended by Qutaiba bin Said al Ghailani, member of the Board of Directors of the Oman Football Association, Younis bin Issa al Ghafri from OFA Media Department, Maqbool bin Mohammad al Balushi, Director of the National Team and Salah bin Thuwaini al Araimi from the National Teams Department.
The Arabian Gulf Cup was launched in 1970 and is organised every two years. The first edition was held in Bahrain in 1970 and the recent one in Qatar in 2019.
Kuwait is the most successful team in the tournament’s history with ten titles, while Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iraq won the event three times each. Oman and the UAE came on top in two editions each.
Group A: Oman, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen
Group B: Qatar, Bahrain, UAE and Kuwait