Printer Friendly and PDF

Kuala Lumpur: After profiling one of the grounds that hosted the 2016 AFC Champions League final last week – Al Ain’s Hazza Bin Zayed next takes a closer look at a venue that hosted the second-legs of the 2013 and 2015 finals, Guangzhou Evergrande’s Tianhe Stadium.

Having opened back in 1987, it is only in relatively recent times that two-time AFC Champions League winners Guangzhou have moved in. But its occupants’ success on the continent has added further colour to the story of a venue that had already staged top-class sporting events.


Tianhe Stadium is a multi-purpose arena located in heart of the southern Chinese city. Opened in 1987 for the National Games of China, the 58,500-capacity venue has since hosted the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Cup final and was also used in the 2010 Asian Games.


Construction on the venue began in 1984 before it officially opened three years later when it staged the sixth National Games of China. Then in 1991, when the first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup was hosted in China’s Guangdong province, Tianhe Stadium was the setting for a number of games including China’s last-eight defeat to Sweden and the final, in which the U.S. were crowned world champions after a 2-1 win over Norway.

Tianhe Stadium was the main venue for the Asian Games in 2010, hosting the finals of both the men’s and women’s football tournaments. A year later it became the home of Guangzhou.

In 2015, the stadium was the second-leg setting for the AFC Champions League final between Guangzhou and Al Ahli of the United Arab Emirates. For the second time in three years, the Chinese Super League side were crowned continental champions as Brazilian Elkeson’s goal secured a 1-0 aggregate win.

A Match to Remember

Two years earlier, China’s top dogs Guangzhou had just claimed their third successive league title and advanced to their maiden AFC Champions League final, where they would meet Korea Republic’s FC Seoul. After a 2-2 draw in the South Korean capital, Marcelo Lippi’s side returned to Tianhe Stadium with it all to play for.

In front of a crowd of 55,847, Elkeson put the hosts in front with a superb goal, only for Dejan Damjanovic to level five minutes later. But Guangzhou managed to hold out as a 3-3 aggregate draw ensured an away goals victory to become the first Chinese side to win the AFC Champions League and join Liaoning FC – who won the 1989-90 Asian Club Cup – as the country’s only continental champions.

Photos: Lagardère Sports