DOHA: The Asian Football Confederation has confirmed the cast of match officials that will oversee the opening match of the AFC Asian Cup in Qatar – starting on Friday at the Lusail Stadium which hosted the 2022 FIFA World Cup Final.

Widely regarded as one of the most established Asian match officials, Alireza Faghani has been appointed to officiate the highly-anticipated Group A fixture between defending champions Qatar and Lebanon, which will kick off at 7pm in the 88,000-capacity venue and officially get the 18th edition of Asia’s crown jewel underway.

The highly-experienced Iranian will be ably supported by an Australian duo of assistant referees Anton Shchetinin and Ashley Warwick Beecham, while Korea Republic pair Ko Hyung-jin and Yoon Jae-yeol are the fourth official and reserve assistant referee respectively.

Australian Evan Shaun Robert is the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), while compatriot Kate Jacewicz will become the first ever female official to be involved in an AFC Asian Cup™ match when she takes up her role as assistant VAR.

Faghani will take charge of his 13th AFC Asian Cup™ match in his fourth appearance at the showpiece, having officiated as fourth official for four matches on his debut in 2011, refereed five matches in 2015 – including the Final between Korea Republic and eventual winners Australia – and two in the 2019 edition.

The AFC Referee of the Year in 2016 and 2018, Faghani embarked on his refereeing journey in 1994 and became a FIFA referee in 2008.

He has demonstrated his prowess on the biggest stages in world football – a support referee at the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014, Faghani was the man in the middle for four matches at the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018, including the third-place play-off between Belgium and England, before officiating two matches at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Faghani has also refereed at the 2013 and 2015 editions of the FIFA Club World Cup, the 2016 Olympic Games Men’s football tournament, including the gold-medal match and the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017. At club level, he has taken charge of 66 AFC Champions League™ matches, including the 2014 Final.

This fixture will mark the debut of the Semi-Automated Offside Technology (SAOT) system at an AFC competition, making the AFC the first Confederation in world football to apply the system at the Continental Men’s national team level. The SAOT system will complement the VAR system, which makes its full debut and will be implemented for all 51 matches.