Dubai: Former Liverpool ace Roberto Firmino to headline inaugural Challenge Cup

Saudi's Al Ahli, Egypt's Zamalek SC, Morocco's Raja Club Athletic and China's Wuhan Three Towns will feature in the tournament

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Al Ahli's Roberto Firmino (centre). Photo: Reuters file
Al Ahli's Roberto Firmino (centre). Photo: Reuters file

Published: Tue 26 Dec 2023, 3:51 PM

Last updated: Tue 26 Dec 2023, 5:38 PM

The inaugural edition of the Dubai Challenge Cup 2024 is set to be held from 26- 28 January 2024. Hosted in partnership with Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) and the DSC, the event will feature some of the top teams from Asia and Africa.

The much-anticipated event, organised by Gallop Global, will see four prominent clubs from China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Morocco compete at Dubai’s Al Maktoum Stadium, home to Al Nasr FC. The organisation of the event further strengthens Dubai’s position as a leading destination for hosting international sporting events.

Fourteen-time Egyptian champions Zamalek SC, led by Ahmed Abou El Fotouhm Shikabala – otherwise known as Shikabala – will play three-time CAF Champions League winners and eight-time Moroccan Cup winners Raja Club Athletic in the tournament opener on 26 January 2024.

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The Wuhan Three Towns from China, led by Brazilian Davidson da Luz Pereira, will face Al Ahli Saudi a day later. Among the notable stars in the Saudi team is former Liverpool player Roberto Firmino. Additionally, Al Ahli's roster boasts French forward Allan Saint-Maximin, who made a move from Newcastle United to the Middle East club in a deal valued at around £25 million in July.

Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment at Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, said: “The inaugural Dubai Challenge Cup is a major addition to our year-round calendar of world-class sporting events, aligning with the vision of the Dubai Economic Agenda, D33 to further consolidate Dubai’s position as one of the top three global cities for business and leisure.

The tournament also highlights Dubai’s status as the preferred destination for hosting major sporting events, further enhancing its position to become the best city in the world to visit, live and work in. Besides, the tournament underlines Dubai’s commitment to excellence across diverse sectors, inviting the world to witness the fusion of sporting prowess and unparalleled hospitality that defines our vibrant city.”

Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of the Dubai Sports Council, said: “Hosting the inaugural Dubai Challenge Cup 2024 stands as a key highlight in the city's 2024 sports calendar. We eagerly anticipate the event kickstarting a series of outstanding sporting events throughout the year. The Dubai Challenge Cup 2024 is poised to play a crucial role in enhancing Dubai's status as a premier global destination for major teams, providing unparalleled opportunities for training, competitive matches and season preparations.”

Ivan Modia, CEO of Gallop Global, said: “We are thrilled to announce the Dubai Challenge Cup, set to bring four high-level teams to Dubai in the new year. This exciting event promises a thrilling showdown between top teams from Asia and Africa, each synonymous with domestic or regional titles and boasting incredible fan bases. The success of this event is made possible through the support of our partners, Dubai's Department of Economy and Tourism, and the Dubai Sports Council. We eagerly anticipate witnessing fans cheering with pride for their teams at Al Maktoum Stadium in January.”

Starting at the semi-final stage, the Dubai Challenge Cup 2024 will see each side play two matches, with either the final or a third and fourth place playoff awaiting the competing sides after the opening games.

Tickets for the Dubai Challenge Cup 2024 are exclusively available for purchase on Platinum List's website.

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