AFC Asian Cup 2015
The Asian Cup is one of the premier soccer events in the world, and in 2015 it's coming to Australia. It's the first time our nation has hosted the continent's biggest sporting event since its 1956 inception.
Held every four years, the AFC Asian Cup brings together the best soccer teams from around Asia to put their skills to the test and gain the trophy and accolades of being the best in the continent. The 2015 event takes place in January and will see 16 nations competing for the top prize.
A total of 32 matches will be played over 23 days, finishing with a Sydney final on January 31 2015.
Of the 16 qualifiers, Japan, Korea Republic and Australia qualified by finishing in the top three in the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2011. DPR Korea qualified after taking out the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup. Iran, Oman, Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Uzbekistan, Jordan, China PR, Iraq and Qatar have also made the cut. The final team nation, Palestine, qualified as winners of the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup.
Japan, the defending champion, has won the most titles in the tournament's history, and have been particularly strong in recent years. The only other nation to take out the event in the new millennium is Iraq.
Australia has done fairly well in previous events, finishing in the quarter-finals in the 2007 event and then losing to Japan in the 2011 Doha final.
Travel around with the Australian team to their matches across the country, or stay put in one city and head to as many of the games there as you like. Sydney's Stadium Australia is playing host to seven matches, and its capacity of 83,500 means the atmosphere is likely to be electric. Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra are also each hosting seven matches, with stadiums including the 30,000 capacity Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, 52,500 capacity Brisbane Stadium and 25,000 Canberra Stadium. A further four games will be held at Newcastle Stadium.
Stay in the city centres to lap up the atmosphere during the event, or head to the smaller towns and suburbs on the outskirts and catch public transport into the matches.
Passionate football fans may want to purchase a Venue Pack, which secures tickets to every AFC Asian Cup fixture in a given city. This deal can save you up to 20 per cent on ticket prices.
Individual group match tickets start from $15 for adults and $5 for children. A ticket to watch the Socceroos starts from $49 for adults and $24.50 for children.
The 16 teams have been split up into four pools of four, with the best of them progressing through to the finals stage. Australia shares group A with Korea Republic, Kuwait and Oman, and the Socceroos will play their first game at Melbourne's Rectangular Stadium on January 9 against Kuwait. They will play Oman at Stadium Australia on January 13, before moving on to Brisbane to play Korea Republic on January 17.
Photo courtesy of doggiesrule04