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Kuala Lumpur: With a little over five months to go before India’s first FIFA tournament – the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup – our next Great Ground of Asia is the country’s biggest: Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium.

Set to be the host of the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, Salt Lake Stadium has a proud history of football in one of the world’s most populous countries.

Fixtures to have been hosted in this venue include some fantastic matches in the continental game as well as one of Asia’s most passionate rivalries in the Kolkata derby.


Overview

The multi-purpose Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata is the largest in India and at one point, before its renovation in 2011, was the second largest in the world with an official capacity of 120,000.

Due to be one of the designated venues at the upcoming 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, the renovated stadium will now have a revised capacity of 85,000.

Owned by the All Indian Football Association and covering an area of 76.40 acres (309,200 m2), the stadium is primarily used for football and is the home of the national team, I-League clubs East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, and, since 2014, India Super League side Atletico de Kolkata.

The venue regularly hosts international football matches, as well as athletics and concerts.

One of the most regular and colourful fixtures which takes place at the stadium is the Kolkata derby between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.


History

Built in 1984 and inaugurated with the now defunct Nehru Cup, the venue hosted the multi-sport South Asian Games three years later and Mohammed Fareed scored an 89th-minute winner as India edged out Nepal 1-0 in front of a crowd of 80,000 to win the gold medal in the football competition.

In 1997, a reported crowd of 130,000 fans attended the boro (which means Big in Bengali) at Salt Lake Stadium and saw Baichung Bhutia score a hat-trick as East Bengal beat Mohun Bagan 4-1 in the semi-finals of the Federation Cup.

Yuba Bharati Krirangan, as it is known in Bengali, hosted a farewell match for former Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn in May 2008 before being renovated in 2011 ahead of an international friendly between Argentina and Venezuela.

The Stadium is currently set to host the final and third place play-off match in October’s FIFA U-17 World Cup as well as a quarter-final, Round of 16 fixture and group stage ties.


A Match to Remember

The 2013 AFC Cup semi-final second-leg between Kuwait SC and East Bengal at Salt Lake Stadium remains one of the biggest crowds for a continental club game in India and was just the second time a team from the Southern Asian nation had reached the final four.

Having lost the first leg in Kuwait City but secured two valuable away goals in a 4-2 scoreline, East Bengal fans filled the stands for the second leg in the expectation of a memorable comeback and a first-ever appearance in the AFC Cup final.

But despite a crowd of over 50,000 in Salt Lake Stadium, the East Bengal dream was not to be.

First-half goals from Rogerinho and Abdulhadi Khamis stretched Kuwait SC’s lead before an own-goal three minutes from time by Abhishek Das saw the West Asians through.

The Kuwaitis would go on to lift the title after a 2-0 win in the final over compatriots Qadsia SC.

Photos: Lagardère Sports