Gold Coast base for UAE ahead of Asian Cup

The United Arab Emirates team will base themselves in the Gold Coast as they prepare for the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015.

Swapping one sunny climate for another, the UAE should feel right at home as they set up their pre-competition camp at the height of a Queensland summer.

The team will arrive at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast on December 23, giving them more than two weeks to prepare for the biggest football event ever held in Australia.

The UAE is the first team to call the Sunshine State home and the fifth to secure a pre-competition training site, joining Qatar (Canberra), Bahrain (Ballarat), China (Campbelltown) and Jordan (Melbourne).

Asian Cup Local Organising Committee chief Michael Brown said the UAE’s decision was a huge boost for the Gold Coast.

“I’m sure the Emirates players, management and team delegation will receive an enthusiastic reception, and that the people of the Gold Coast will reach out and adopt the UAE team,” Brown said.

“With less than four months to go until kick-off, this is a timely reminder of how close we are to the first Asian Cup on Australian soil.”

UAE will play its first two matches in Canberra – against Qatar on January 11 and Bahrain on January 15 – before completing its group matches in Brisbane against former champions Iran on January 19.

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said he was delighted at securing the UAE team for the training camp.

“As part of our inaugural Sports Plan, we’re striving to become a world leader in sports training destinations and this announcement is another step in the right direction,” Tate said.

“Not only is the presence of an overseas sporting team beneficial to the local economy, it’s also a huge plus in promoting the city to potential visitors from that country.

“Since March this year, the sports training camps we’ve attracted have brought more than $3.6 million into the city. I look forward to welcoming the UAE team here in December.”

The 16 finalists will take part in a 23-day festival of football in five cities which the Socceroos will kick off against Kuwait on January 9, 2015, in Melbourne.

The final set for Sydney’s Stadium Australia on January 31, 2015.