In January, Australia will come alive for the ‘festival of football’. Both spectators on the ground – tipped at 500,000 – and more than 800 million watching around the world will come together for the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015. It’s the first time Australia has hosted the prestigious AFC Asian Cup which started in 1956 and takes place every four years. It will be the biggest football tournament this country has ever hosted, with 16 countries duking it out from 9 January to 31 January 2015. The host cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Newcastle will host a whopping 32 matches over 23 days.
Melbourne will be hosting seven matches in the AFC Asian Cup 2015 including the opening match as well as one of the quarter finals. The opening ceremony will precede the opening match. In Melbourne, it all will kick off on 9 January when the Australian Socceroos play Kuwait under the lights at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium. After that, on 11 January Iran plays Bahrain, on 14 January Korea takes on Saudi Arabia, on 16 January Jordan will play the Challenge Cup winner, on 18 January Uzbekistan takes on Saudi Arabia, on 20 January Japan plays Jordan and finally on 22 January a quarter final will be played here.
The AAMI Rectangular Stadium is 10 minutes drive from the central city with your Melbourne car hire. You may take State Route 20 toward the stadium or head down Brunton Ave. There are some hotels and apartment accommodation options in the Cremorne area near the stadium, from Hilton on the Park to the Richmond Hill Hotel. If you prefer to stay in the heart of Melbourne itself, you won’t be short of choice, from the Marriott to Travelodge.
Melbourne has more cafes and restaurants per capita than anywhere in the world. Some great spots to dine and drink include Vue de Monde on the 55th floor of the Rialto Tower in the city, which has received critical acclaim; Tonka at 20 Duckboard Place for modern Indian cuisine; or celebrity chef George Calombaris’ new eatery Gazy at 2 Exhibition St for Greek style grilled fare. For late night drinks, you can’t go past the rooftop Transit Cocktail Lounge at the Transport Hotel in Federation Square.