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Kuala Lumpur: Jakarta’s majestic Gelora Bung Karno Stadium is the atmospheric and intimidating home to Indonesia's national football team, while it also hosted one of the continent’s most iconic matches when Iraq defeated Saudi Arabia to lift the 2007 AFC Asian Cup.

After profiling Riyadh’s King Fahd International Stadium last week, ventures east once more to thrust the spotlight on one of Southeast Asia’s finest stadiums as our Great Grounds of Asia series continues.


The stunning Gelora Bung Karno Stadium is the main arena within the Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex in central Jakarta. With a capacity of 80,000, the stadium is renowned for being among the most vibrant and unique sporting venues in the region.

Divided into 24 sectors and into upper and lower stands, the arena’s special feature is its imposing steel roof that forms a huge ring known as temu gelang, or joined ring. Primarily used for football, the venue also stages other sporting events and music concerts as well as large scale religious and political events.


Constructed to host the fourth Asian Games in 1962, Gelora Bung Karno Stadium was named after the first President of Indonesia, Sukarno, and has gone on to host a number of football tournaments and international matches in addition to three Asian Athletics Championships, while it will also host the 2018 Asian Games.

Initially built with a capacity exceeding 120,000, renovations ahead of the 2007 AFC Asian Cup – hosted across four Southeast Asian countries – led to a reduction in seating but did little to dampen the atmosphere. Having been used as the primary venue for the group stage in Indonesia, in which the hosts fell just short of a place in the last eight, Gelora Bung Karno Stadium then staged Saudi Arabia’s 2-1 quarter-final victory over Uzbekistan.

More recently, it hosted the second leg of the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup final between Indonesia and Malaysia, which the hosts won 2-1 on the night but lost 4-2 on aggregate.

A Match to Remember

While the venue has undoubtedly staged a number Indonesia’s greatest moments at international level, for sheer scale of achievement it’s impossible to look beyond Iraq’s monumental triumph in lifting the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, the first and only time they have done so.

With the crisis back home ongoing, the war-torn nation had done well just to make the tournament, but what followed was almost unimaginable. After topping a group comprising Australia, Thailand and Oman, Iraq went on to oust Vietnam and Korea Republic on the quarter- and semi-finals respectively.

Then, with three-time AFC Asian Cup champions Saudi Arabia awaiting in the final, Iraq completed one of the most heartwarming stories in football history as Younus Mahmood’s header secured a 1-0 victory to bring joy to a nation as the West Asians lifted a maiden continental title.

Photos: Lagardère Sports/AFP