5 picturesque Asian football grounds
Kuala Lumpur: From Saitama to Azadi Stadium, the world’s largest continent is home to some great football stadiums, but Asia also boasts many lesser known grounds with some of the most picturesque settings for football anywhere in the world.
With the sport all over Asia taking a break, the-AFC.com takes you on a tour across the continent, looking at grounds where the scenic views are as much an attraction as the football itself.
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Changlimithang Stadium – Bhutan
Built in 1974 and renovated in 2007, the Changlimithang Stadium is home of the Bhutan national team. This stunning venue with a capacity of 15,000 fans is located in the capital Thimphu, at an elevation of 2,300 metres above sea level.
Nestled between the mountains at the heart of the Raidak river valley, this iconic ground is set against a scenic backdrop of mountains. Traditional Bhutanese Dzong architecture features heavily in the design of the pavilion area which includes the VIP section, making for a dramatic view from the main stand.
In 2015, the Changlimithang Stadium was home to Bhutan’s first-ever home win in FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Having stunned Sri Lanka in Colombo five days earlier, Bhutan, sitting bottom of the FIFA rankings at the time, recorded an emotional 2-1 victory in front of a full house in a game that has further cemented the iconic status of the ground as the spiritual home of Bhutanese football.
Jazan’s Carved Stadium – Saudi Arabia
It may never get the chance to host a FIFA World Cup qualifier or an AFC Champions League final, but Jazan’s Carved Stadium has already garnered a lot of attention from across Saudi Arabia for its unique setting in the middle of the Al Hashr mountains in the south of the kingdom.
The brainchild of a local entrepreneur, the ground was opened in 2006 with the objective of providing a venue for youth from the mountainous villages to play football. Since then, the Carved Stadium has grown into a major attraction in the area, with thousands of fans turning up for local games on weekends.
Alpensia Ski Jumping Stadium – Korea Republic
The latest addition to this list of scenic Asian grounds is the Alpensia Ski Jumping Stadium. Built as a ski jumping venue to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, the landing area was later developed into a football pitch and became the adopted home of K-League side Gangwon FC.
Situated at the heart of the Taebaek mountain range in the northeast of Korea Republic, the southern end of the stadium features two ski jumping hills rising 142 metres and 109 metres respectively, while the three remaining sides of the pitch offer 13,000 seats with stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Khorfakkan Stadium - UAE
Upon gaining promotion to the UAE Pro League for the first time in over a decade, Khorfakkan FC had to wait for six months until their home ground was ready to host top flight football, but when preparations were finally completed earlier this month, UAE football welcomed one of the most picturesque grounds in the region.
Located in the small beach town of the same name just off the country’s east coast, Khorfakkan Stadium is the smallest of the 14 UAE Pro League grounds with a capacity of just over 5,000 fans. But with the Gulf of Oman to one side of the stadium and a Royal palace sitting atop the hill less than 100 metres behind one of the goals, the stadium offers scenic views unparalleled in this part of the world.
IAI Nihondira Stadium, Japan
With one of Asia’s most famous natural wonders as a backdrop, Japan’s IAI Nihondira Stadium had to be on this list. The Home of J-League side Shimizu S-Pulse is also the largest in this list of scenic grounds, with a capacity of just over 20,000 fans.
Built in 1991, the stadium was expanded two years later ahead of the first J-League season. Thanks to its location in the Nihondira neighbourhood at the edge of the Suruga Bay, fans in the West and North stands of this stadium can enjoy unobstructed views of Mount Fuji across the water.
Vote for your favourite stadium below! Poll ends at 16:00 (UTC +8) on March 25.
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