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Kuala Lumpur: After profiling our first venue from India in last week’s edition of Great Grounds of Asia – Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadiumthe-AFC.com returns for its second visit to China to take a closer look at Beijing’s Workers’ Stadium.

Having been the primary venue at the 2004 AFC Asian Cup, as well as being used for football during the 2008 Olympic Games, the stadium boasts a colourful history that rivals any of its counterparts in China.


Overview

Located in the Chaoyang District in the northeast of China’s capital, Workers’ Stadium is a multi-purpose venue with a capacity of just over 66,000 that is home to Chinese Super League club Beijing Guoan.

Initially built in 1959, the stadium, which features a running track around the pitch, was renovated in 1994 as part of China’s ultimately unsuccessful bid to hosts the 2000 Olympic Games.

Indeed, athletics has been a major player at the venue over the years, with the 1990 Asian Games and the seventh edition of the Chinese National Games in 1993 having been held there, while it has been used for music concerts too.

But football has remained its primary use and, in addition to hosting Chinese Super League and international fixtures, it also staged the 2009 Barclays Asia Trophy and German powerhouse Bayern Munich’s pre-season match with Beijing Guoan in 2012.


History

Workers’ Stadium was constructed in 1959 as one of the Ten Great Buildings to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.

The venue hosted a number of major athletics meetings during the 1990s and witnessed world records being broken in the women’s 1,500m, 3,000m and 10,000m in 1993, with the 3,000m record still standing to this day.

When China staged its first and to date only AFC Asian Cup in 2004, for which the venue again underwent renovation, Workers’ Stadium played host all of China’s games on their march to a second final appearance.

Four years later, the venue was also used in the Olympic Games and hosted semi-finals in the men's and women’s tournaments as well as the women’s Gold Medal match between the U.S. and Brazil which the Americans won 1-0 after extra-time.


A Match to Remember

The 2004 AFC Asian Cup final saw China and Japan go head to head with the hosts looking to secure their first-ever continental title and the Samurai Blue aiming for their third win in four tournaments.

Crowds steadily grew as China claimed two wins from three on route to topping Group A, before a 3-0 quarter-final victory over Iraq was followed by penalty shootout success against the Islamic Republic of Iran as the hosts booked a date with their fierce rivals in the final.

Some 62,000 anticipant spectators turned out for the final, only for Takashi Fukunishi to stun the packed venue by opening the scoring for Japan midway through the first half.

Hope was restored soon after, though, as Li Ming leveled to spark jubilant celebrations in the stands. But it was not to be as Koji Nakata netted with 25 minutes remaining before Keiji Tamada wrapped up a 3-1 victory in stoppage time as Japan were crowned continental champions for the third time.

Photos: Lagardère Sports

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