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Kuala Lumpur: After last week profiling the first-ever Asian venue to stage a FIFA World Cup match, Seoul World Cup Stadium, the-AFC.com’s Great Grounds of Asia series continues the theme by heading west to 2022 hosts Qatar and the Khalifa International Stadium.

The state-of-the-art Doha-based venue will be one of the stadiums used when the global extravaganza arrives in the Middle East for the first time as West Asia stages the continent’s second FIFA World Cup.

Overview

Khalifa International Stadium recently became the first arena that will be used in 2022 to be completed after undergoing extensive renovations at a reported cost US$70million dollars.

The 40,000-capacity sustainable venue, located within the Doha Sports Complex, boasts a brand new roof that covers all seated areas and a sports museum. 

Luxurious new changing rooms, VIP areas and a media tribune have also been added.

One of its key features – and a major drive behind Qatar’s bid for the competition – has been the installation of cooling technology. 

The pitchside temperature will thus stay at 26 degrees Celsius, while fans in the stands will also benefit as temperatures will be kept between 24 and 28 degrees.

History

Originally opened in 1976, Khalifa International Stadium underwent its first major renovation in 2005 ahead of the 2006 Asian Games. 

It continues to stage major athletics events to this day and will host the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Athletics in two years' time.

The stadium, which is the home venue for Qatar’s national football team, staged international friendlies between Brazil and England in 2009 and Brazil and Argentina a year later.

It was also the setting for one of Qatar’s biggest footballing achievements when, in 1992, the Gulf Cup of Nations was staged in Doha. 

Having finished as runners-up in the previous edition in Kuwait, Qatar won their first major international title after coming out on top of the six-team round-robin group.

A Match to Remember

In 2011, Qatar hosted the AFC Asian Cup for the second time. Khalifa International Stadium was the venue for all three of the hosts’ group stage games as well as ties in the quarter- and semi-finals.

Appearing in their first-ever AFC Asian Cup final, Australia would take on Japan, who were targeting a fourth continental title and had eliminated Australia on penalties at the quarter-final stage four years earlier.

In front of 37,000 spectators at Khalifa International Stadium, 90 minutes of action failed to separate the sides. 

Then, in the 109th minute, Yuto Nagamoto delivered an inch-perfect cross from the left that was expertly volleyed home by the unmarked Tadanari Lee as the Samurai Blue claimed a 1-0 victory to be crowned Asian champions.

Photos: AFP

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