Australia was the sole bidder for the hosting rights and was officially named host on 5 January 2011.
“Considering the efforts of the Football Federation Australia in developing the game on their territory and considering also all the achievements that have been made towards the development of football in Australia and to encourage Australia to take steps towards developing the game, I am happy and honoured to announce that the executive committee of the Asian Football Confederation has approved Australia as the host nation of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup,” said then-AFC President, Mohammed Bin Hammam.
The teams finishing first, second and third in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, and the host nation for the 2015 competition, receive automatic byes to finals. Should the host nation finish in the top three of the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, the fourth-placed team does not receive an automatic bye. The AFC Challenge Cup acts as a further qualification competition for eligible countries within the emerging and developing category of member associations. The winners of the AFC Challenge Cup competitions in 2012 and 2014 qualify automatically to the 2015 AFC Asian Cup finals. The remaining spots are available for the teams competing in the main Asian Cup preliminaries. The AFC decided that the 20 teams involved in the qualifiers would be drawn into five groups of four teams each. The top two teams from each group and one best third-placed team from among all the groups would qualify for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.
The draw for the final tournament was held at the Sydney Opera House on 26 March 2014. The 16 participating teams were drawn into the four groups of the group stage. In preparation for this, the teams were organised into four pots using the March 2014 FIFA World Rankings (rankings beside the qualified teams), with the host nation Australia automatically occupying the A1 position of Pot 1. At the time of the draw, the identity of the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup winners was not known yet, and they were automatically placed into Pot 4.
The match schedule was announced on 27 March 2013. The winners and runners-up from each group advance to the knockout stage.
The teams are ranked according to points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a tie, 0 points for a loss). If tied on points, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:
Greater number of points obtained in the group matches between the teams concerned
Goal difference resulting from the group matches between the teams concerned
Greater number of goals scored in the group matches between the teams concerned
Goal difference in all the group matches
Greater number of goals scored in all the group matches
Penalty shoot-out if only two teams are involved and they are both on the field of play
Fewer score calculated according to the number of yellow and red cards received in the group matches (1 point for a single yellow card, 3 points for a red card as a consequence of two yellow cards, 3 points for a direct red card, 4 points for a yellow card followed by a direct red card)
The tournament will be held from 9 to 31 January, during Australia's summer. The 2014–15 season of the A-League, the national league competition of Australia, is expected to be suspended for three weeks during the tournament. In addition, the inaugural season of the FFA Cup, the national cup tournament of Australia, was brought forward to avoid a clash with Asian Cup match dates played in January 2015.