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.
Sydney’s Stadium Australia is the biggest venue of this tournament with capacity for 80,000 fans. It will host seven matches. On 10 January Uzbekistan takes on Korea, on 13 January Oman faces Australia, on 15 January Qatar plays Iran, on 19 January Qatar takes on Bahrain, and then on 23, 26 and 31 January respectively, the quarter final, semi final and final will be played here.
Stadium Australia was expressly built for the 2000 Sydney Olympics and officially opened in June 1999 when the Socceroos played the FIFA World Series. It sits within Sydney Olympic Park, which in turn lies within extensive parklands called Bicentennial Park, one of Sydney’s most popular recreational spots. It is about half an hour from central city Sydney with your Sydney car hire. Take the A4 to the Australia Avenue exit.
Both the Ibis and Pullman hotels have outlets near Sydney’s Olympic Park. However you may prefer to stay in central Sydney to make the most of your time in this city and enjoy its cosmopolitan attractions. The city has no shortage of accommodation options, from the Four Points by Sheraton and InterContinental to more quirky places like The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel or The Heritage Hotel.
A few places to dine and drink include Quay, in The Rocks – recently ranked in the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and boasting some of Sydney’s most spectacular views; the Opera Bar in the Sydney Opera House with enviable harbour views and live music every evening; and The Star in Pyrmont, with some excellent fine dining options as well as Sydney’s famous gelateria, Gelato Messina.