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Kuala Lumpur: As the-AFC.com’s Great Grounds of Asia series reaches its landmark tenth edition, where better than to profile a venue that staged arguably the most significant match the continent has ever hosted?

Seoul World Cup Stadium, as its name suggests, was constructed for the 2002 global showpiece. Its legacy will now forever read that it hosted the first-ever FIFA World Cup game to be played on Asian soil.

Overview

One of the most recognisable football venues in East Asia, Seoul World Cup Stadium was built ahead of the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea Republic and Japan. Located in the Seongsandong neighbourhood of the Mapo-gu district, the 66,704-capacity venue is the centerpiece of a park comprising a supplementary stadium and three futsal arenas.

The stadium is the largest football-only venue in the country and boasts a distinctly Korean feel to it. Standing fifty metres high and held up by 16 masts, its stunning roof is shaped like a traditional kite and, adding to its nationalistic flavour, it appears to be made out of the traditional paper, hanji.

History

Opened in November 2001, Seoul World Cup Stadium couldn’t have been given grander introduction to the worldwide audience. On May 31, 2002, defending champions France were humbled 1-0 by Senegal in the opening game of the FIFA World Cup as Asia’s first staging of the tournament kicked off with a bang.

The venue was later the setting for the end Korea Republic’s remarkable run as the Taeguk Warriors exited 1-0 to Germany in the semi-finals.

Since those heady days, the stadium has staged numerous FIFA World Cup qualifiers as well as the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup. It is also the home to Korean giants FC Seoul, winners of six K-League Classic titles including three since taking up residency.

A Match to Remember

In 2013, FC Seoul made it all the way to the AFC Champions League final, where they would meet a Guangzhou Evergrande team just beginning their rise to the fore. In front of more than 55,000 spectators at Seoul World Cup Stadium, the hosts took an early first-leg lead through Argentine midfielder Sergio Escudero.

But Guangzhou’s Elkeson leveled on 30 minutes before Gao Lin made it 2-1 as the hour approached. Much to the delight of the home crowd, FC Seoul legend Dejan Damjanovic restored parity with seven minutes remaining as the tie ended 2-2.

Two weeks later in Guangzhou the contest would also end level, but the 1-1 scoreline meant the Chinese side won on away goals. It remains the only AFC Champions League final to be decided in such a way.

Photos: Lagardère Sports

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