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Kuala Lumpur: Having recently profiled some great grounds of Asia in the east of the continent with stadia in Thailand, Japan and Vietnam, this week the-AFC.com journeys westwards to the United Arab Emirates and the stunning Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium.

One of the youngest grounds in our series so far, the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium is no less iconic and has already hosted some memorable matches for both the UAE national team and local club Al Ain, who will be in action on Tuesday when they welcome Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli to their picturesque home for the 2017 AFC Champions League.

Overview

The award-winning Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium is a multi-purpose 25,000 capacity venue in Al Ain, UAE. The stadium covers an area of 45,000 square metres and is 50 metres high, making it one of the tallest buildings in Al Ain City.

The design of the outer facade is based on the trunk of the palm tree, an integral part of the UAE’s heritage and legacy, while a sinuous and gravity-bending parasol roof shades the pitch and the spectators during a match. The stadium is used by both inaugural AFC Champions League winners Al Ain and the UAE national team.

History

Completed in January 2014, the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium attracted a capacity crowd for that year’s AFC Champions League semi-final second-leg between Al Ain and Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia. The striking venue has also been in use for the UAE’s FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia qualifiers, has hosted European giants including Manchester City, Roma and Hamburg, and will be a key venue at the AFC Asian Cup 2019 UAE.

However, the clock needs to be turned back a little under six months to the stadium’s most high-profile event to date when it hosted the 2016 AFC Champions League final second-leg between Al Ain and Korea Republic’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.

A Match to Remember

In its comparatively short history – now in its fourth year of use – the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium has already been the home of the AFC’s marquee club football event, the AFC Champions League final.

The 2016 final was played out between Korean champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Emirati powerhouse Al Ain and, having been narrowly edged out 2-1 in Jeonju in the initial meeting, the final’s second leg return to the UAE for the competition’s climax on 26 November.

Al Ain, 2002-2003 winners, were looking for a second continental club title but despite passionate support and colour in the stands at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, it was the visitors Jeonbuk who came out on top after a 1-1 draw secured a 3-2 victory on aggregate and the Asian crown for a second time.

Photos: Lagardère Sports

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