Magnificent stadium in Dubai ready for AFC Asian Cup
27 December 2018
As the 2019 AFC Asian Cup (January 5-February 1) draws closer, gates will open at the magnificent Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai for the football aficionados.
The reconstructed stadium will open its arms to 15,000 fans when Asian giants South Korea face Sven Goran-Eriksson's Philippines in a Group C match of the continent's showpiece event on January 7.
This state-of-the-art stadium will stage six matches in the Asian Cup, which the UAE is hosting for the first time since 1996.
Four of the six games are group-stage matches and the stadium will also host one pre-quarterfinal and a quarterfinal.
And the UAE national team will get a chance to feel the excellent turf at the new stadium when Alberto Zaccheroni's men take on Kuwait in a pre-tournament friendly on Friday (December 28, 9pm).
The all-blue seats at the stadium is a tribute to the colours of its home club, Al Nasr, and the grand facade is reminiscent of Al Ain's iconic Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.
Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council, couldn't hide his joy when local media had its first look at the brand new stadium on Wednesday.
"We have upgraded the stadium. You know it's the Al Nasr club stadium. It's a historic club that has given so many great players to the national team," Hareb told reporters on Wednesday.
"Now the capacity of the stadium is 15,000. We have upgraded it as per the requirements of Asian Football Confederation. The stadium has top-class facilities for players, officials and the media," he added.
For a city that already has world-class sporting venues like Hamdan Sports Complex and the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, a modern football stadium is now going to put Dubai on an even higher pedestal.
"It's a new addition, a new destination, a new stadium that we needed," Hareb said.
"Of course, the Asian Cup has added value. We already have some world-class football stadiums in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. So we now have a top-class stadium in Dubai.
"I can say that it's a new icon for Dubai football. We have a stadium for cricket in Dubai, but we didn't have a special stadium for football in Dubai. But now we have that.
"It's a wonderful stadium, even from outside, you see that the stadium has a different look."
It will be a majestic sight on match-nights when the impressive facade will be illuminated in the colours of the home team.