Bengaluru/Abu Dhabi, January 6: As expected the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 kicked off in style with a grand opening ceremony at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital.
Against the backdrop of a packed stadium and hundreds of millions around the world, football fans were treated to a breathtaking live show with a series of on-pitch music performances in a fitting tribute to the excellence of Asian football and the vibrant spirit, colour and atmosphere of the host nation.
Internationally renowned singing sensations from the UAE, Hussain Al Jassmi, Balqees Ahmed Fathi and Eida Al Menhali were the ceremony's main stars, which set the perfect stage for the tournament's opener between the hosts UAE and Bahrain which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Titled "Zanaha Zayed," the opening ceremony's theme song was written by Arif Al Khaja and composed by Khalid Nasser.
That opening ceremony though 😍🏆💫 pic.twitter.com/T24HgWBOBy— #AsianCup2019 (@afcasiancup) January 5, 2019
Leading to the highly-anticipated kick-off, the show depicted the story of the tournament's mascot, Mansour, an Emirati boy inspired by the beauty of the flight of falcons. Moved by their gracious movements, Mansour extended a warm Emirati welcome to Asia and the rest of the world.
Produced by those behind the successful opening ceremonies of the UEFA Champions League finals since 2014, the UEFA European Championships 2016 and several CAF African Cup of Nations, the opening ceremony also featured incredible giant falcons, over-sized lotus petals and a huge replica of the new AFC Asian Cup trophy.
As many as 600 expert performers from the UAE and around the world participated in the live extravaganza including drummers, Ayalla dancers and origami falcons - all of whom created a series of mesmerising mass choreography formations for over 13 magical minutes.