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Kuala Lumpur: After profiling state-of-the-art stadia from all over the continent, the-AFC.com next makes its first trip to Australia as our Great Grounds of Asia series takes a closer look at Stadium Australia.

Located in the sporting mecca of Sydney, the venue rivals any in the world and has hosted some of the biggest Australian, Asian and global sporting events in its illustrious 18-year existence.

Overview

Stadium Australia can be found just 14 kilometres away from the city’s central business district, within Sydney Olympic Park. The 83,500-capacity, environmentally sustainable venue was constructed at a cost of AUD690 million and boasts design features including ventilation, natural cooling and heating. Furthermore, rainwater is recycled from the roof to irrigate the pitch.

Originally built to host the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, the venue has since been used for a myriad of first-class sporting occasions including the country's national sports of cricket, rugby union, rugby league and Australian rules football as well as, of course, football. Some of the world’s most renowned musicians such as Adele, U2 and Eminem have also taken to the stage in the arena.

History

Design on Stadium Australia was completed in 1993, before it staged its first sporting event on March 6, 1999, as 104,583 spectators attended a double-header of rugby league matches. But the stadium was not officially opened until June that year when Australia’s Socceroos defeated a FIFA All Stars team 3-2.

The venue’s initial capacity of 110,000 made it the largest Olympic stadium ever built and, indeed, more than 100,000 spectators – an Olympic Games football attendance record – witnessed Cameroon beat Spain on penalties in the 2000 Olympics football final. In 2003, however, the north and south wing stands and the athletics track were removed to allow for sports that require an oval field, thus reducing capacity to its current limit.

After hosting a number of games, including both semi-finals at the 2003 Rugby World Cup, Stadium Australia staged one of Australian football’s finest moments in 2005, when John Aloisi scored the decisive penalty as the Socceroos defeated Uruguay in the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying intercontinental play-off to advance to only their second World Cup.

A Match to Remember

On January 31, 2015, Stadium Australia wrote yet another chapter in its rich history when it hosted the final of the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 between the hosts and two-time winners Korea Republic, who had defeated Ange Postecoglou’s side 1-0 in the group stage.

But wins over China and the United Arab Emirates in the quarter- and semi-finals saw Australia go into the encounter with confidence and Player of the Tournament Massimo Luongo fired the hosts in front on the stroke of half-time.

Son Heung-min threatened to derail the festivities when he equalised at the death, before James Troisi tapped home the winner after 105 minutes as Australia claimed their maiden continental title following a final that will live long in the memory.

Photos: Lagardère Sports