THE match schedule and host venues for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia have been officially unveiled with the competition kicking off in Melbourne (AAMI Park) and concluding in Sydney (ANZ Stadium).
Three other cities - Brisbane (Suncorp Stadium), Canberra and Newcastle (Hunter Stadium) - will help host Asia’s showpiece football event.
Today’s joint announcement by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 Local Organising Committee (LOC) marks another important milestone in the planning of the tournament.
The opening ceremony and Socceroos match will be held in Melbourne on January 9 while the final will take place in Sydney on January 31.
LOC Chief Executive Officer Michael Brown said the Asian Cup in Australia will be a three week, 32 match festival of football.
“We are pleased to have now locked in five top class venues for the competition and finalised the match schedule,” Brown said.
“This will allow the detailed planning for the event to progress on schedule to ensure Asian Cup Australia 2015 is a world-class event and maintains Australia’s international reputation as a great host for the world’s best sporting contests.”
Brown said the Socceroos qualifying games would be played in Melbourne on January 9, Sydney on January 13, and Brisbane on January 17.
“The four quarter finals will be played on January 22 and 23 and we are very excited that on Australia Day 2015 the first semi final will be played at Stadium Australia (ANZ),” he said.
“The second semi final will be played in Newcastle on January 27 and the city will also host the 3rd v 4th play-off on January 30.”
AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 is being jointly-funded by the Australian Government and the Queensland, NSW, ACT and Victorian Governments.
The Federal Minister for Sport Kate Lundy said the government was working in partnership with the LOC as Australia prepares to host the region’s premier sporting event.
“The Asian Cup offers a unique opportunity to showcase Australia as a world-class host for major sporting events and as an attractive tourist destination,” Lundy said.
“The spin-off from the Cup will be enormous for Australia with a global TV audience of more than 2.5 billion people expected and an estimated 45,000 international visitors set to visit our shores.”
NSW Minister for Sport Graham Annesley welcomed the announcement that Sydney and Newcastle would host key semi final and final matches.
“The staging of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia is just reward for the growth of football in this country,” Annesley said.
“Successive FIFA World Cup campaigns have positioned Australia on the world football stage, and I’m confident both Stadium Australia and Newcastle Stadium will ensure fans experience and enjoy these world class facilities during the Asian Cup.”
Victorian Minister for Sport Hugh Delahunty said he looked forward to welcoming visitors to the state for the “highly anticipated event”.
“Melbourne Rectangular Stadium (AAMI Park) is a world class, award winning, purpose-built stadium with fantastic turf that the players will love and where the fans can get up close to the action,” he said.
Queensland Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Jann Stuckey, referred to the benefits and exposure the tournament would bring to the state.
“An event the size of the Asian Cup has a tremendous impact, and I know that Brisbane 2015 will be memorable for spectators and competitors alike,” Stuckey said.
“The number of Asian tourists visiting Queensland has increased markedly during recent years, and the event will provide an opportunity to build on that by showcasing what our wonderful state has to offer.”
Meanwhile ACT Minister for Sport Andrew Barr said the Asian Cup was an exciting event that would showcase Australia to Asia and the world.
“I’m delighted that football fans in Canberra and the capital region will have the chance to see some of the world’s best players and international teams in action.
“Canberra Stadium has a proven track record of hosting high-quality fixtures, including Olympic football, Rugby World Cup and Rugby League World Cup matches. Likewise Canberra will be a great venue for travelling fans, who will have the chance to see the unique attractions of the nation’s capital.”