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Kuala Lumpur: Eleven stadiums have been profiled so far in our ongoing series of Asia’s great grounds, and now we turn to one close to the home of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC): Kuala Lumpur’s imposing National Stadium (Bukit Jalil).

Home of some of Asia’s most passionate and colourful fans, the National Stadium has hosted some of ASEAN football’s most exciting matches as well as the historic 2007 edition of the AFC Asian Cup.


Overview

The 100,000-capacity national stadium is located to the south of Kuala Lumpur and is part of the National Sports Complex in Bukit Jalil, which was built to host the 1998 Commonwealth Games.

When the stadium is not in use, the seats, which are in various colours, create the visual effect of the Malaysian flag in motion. 

Covering 76,000 square metres of land, the multi-purpose venue is the home of the Malaysia football team, while the stadium is also used for music concerts. 

The other facilities at the complex include the Putra Indoor Stadium, the National Aquatic Centre and the National Hockey Stadium, which were also used during the 16th Commonwealth Games. 


History

Construction on the stadium began in 1994 with the venue declared open in July 1998. 

It was Malaysia’s main stadium for the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, and after hosting matches in the group stage, the venue was used for Korea Republic’s penalty shootout victory over IR Iran in the quarter-finals.

Korea remained in the arena for their semi-final against Iraq, but this time the West Asians prevailed on penalties before ultimately securing one of the most memorable triumphs in the competition’s history

The venue also hosted the 21st Southeast Asian Games in 2001, while it has been used for numerous high-profile football matches involving the likes of English Premier League giants Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United. 


A Match to Remember

Despite being regarded as long odds to go all the way at the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup, Malaysia reached the final of the ASEAN championship and enjoyed a match for the ages against Indonesia – a side that had defeated them 5-1 in their group stage opener – at the National Stadium on Boxing Day.

In a turn up for the books, a dramatic 12-minute spell in Kuala Lumpur saw the Indonesian backline penetrated three times, twice by striker Safee Sali, as Malaysia, who were considered firm underdogs ahead of the game, seized control of the tie.

And although the second leg in Jakarta saw the Merah Putih come out on top in a 2-1 win, the damage had already been done at Bukit Jalil and it was Malaysia who lifted the trophy, courtesy of a 4-2 aggregate victory, for the first and to date only time.

Photos: Lagardère Sports

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