THAI LEGEND PIPAT THONKANYA BECOMES LOCAL HERO AS CHILDREN WELCOME FOOTBALL STAR TO UAE

General Press Releases Thursday June 14, 2018 18:20
Bangkok--20 Jun--Hill+Knowlton Strategies
Communities unite as excitement builds towards countdown to
AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019

Some of the greatest names in Asian football have given young footballers living in the UAE the thrill of a lifetime by hosting a special skills clinic in Dubai to help celebrate the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Final Draw and kick-start a new exciting phase of tournament preparation.

Children from all communities in the UAE were united by football fever. But it was those belonging to the Thai community who enjoyed a special surprise as they came face to face with ex-national team legend Pipat Thonkanya, who dropped in for the unique event hosted by the tournament's Local Organising Committee (LOC).

The occasion perfectly embodied the spirit of the competition and brought to life the tournament theme of 'Bringing Asia Together'. The event saw Pipat Thonkanya, showcase his skills to the young fans.

Thailand's Pipat Thonkanya added: "For the first time young children in Thailand want to grow up and become professional footballers. That is very exciting. So as a team, we need to play on the biggest stage in Asian football to inspire more to follow in our footsteps."

To their delight, the children got to go far beyond securing precious autographs as the legends encouraged them to take part in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Crossbar Challenge and a skills demo before posing for photographs beneath the iconic Burj Khalifa, Dubai.

Taking part in the Crossbar Challenge, Pipat Thonkanya added, "The kids here today are really good and it's so nice to see kids here in Thailand kits representing our country. They have great technique and clearly enjoy the game. We need more of this in Thailand to strengthen the sport in the future."

His Excellency, Aref Hamed Al Awani, Tournament Director of the Local Organising Committee said: "Already young dreams are coming true and the next generation is inspired. That's our mission and we hope the impact goes beyond football. We want to excite and embrace each community living in the UAE and unite them through this beautiful game.

"We are blessed to have such a diverse nation but this tournament has the power to connect us all. You just have to look at the smiles on faces and feel the energy created by bringing people together through football to know this tournament is going to be very special. For these children their countdown to the 5th January has already started and we hope that excitement will spread across the country!"

An expanded tournament format for 2019 will witness the best 24 national teams from Asia participate in AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 making it the largest AFC Asian Cup to ever be staged and biggest sporting event hosted in the UAE. 51 matches will be played between 5th January and 1st February 2019 in 8 stadiums located in 3 cities across 3 Emirates.

Thailand has been drawn in Group A alongside India, Bahrain, and hosts UAE. After failing to qualify for this year's World Cup, the Thai team will be looking ahead to the AFC Asian Cup in January as another opportunity to do well in a major competition. All three teams in Group A have higher FIFA rankings than Thailand, however, manager Milovan Rajevac is satisfied and ready to cope with any team.

For the latest AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 news and information please go to www.the-afc.com
About the AFC Asian Cup:

The AFC Asian Cup is the AFC's flagship national team competition. Played every four years, the 2015 edition in Australia was a resounding success, breaking all previous TV-viewership, attendance and social media records.

Scheduled to take place from January 5 to February 1, 2019, the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019TM promises to take the competition to new heights, as it is extended from 16 to 24 teams.

The expansion into a truly continent-wide competition will enforce the AFC Asian Cup brand throughout Asia. With more countries involved and more fans engaged, brand recognition will increase significantly all over Asia


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