Kuala Lumpur: One of the most iconic grounds in West Asia – home to one of the continent’s most popular team’s – is the latest addition to the-AFC.com’s series of stadium profiles: Riyadh’s King Fahd International Stadium.
Opened a year earlier than last week’s entry – China’s Tianhe Stadium – the King Fahd International Stadium has already enjoyed a host of high profile matches and events and is home to some of the most passionate and colourful fans in Asia; making it a worthy edition to our series.
The striking King Fahd International Stadium is a multi-purpose 67,000 capacity venue in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The venue is used by domestic sides Al Shabab, Al Hilal and Al Nassr as well as the Saudi Arabia national team.
The stadium’s roof umbrella is the largest stadium roof in the world despite its large centre opening. The 50000 m² structure contains 24 tent units in a circle with an outer diameter of 288m, with 24 columns arranged in a circle with a 247m diameter providing support.
Completed in 1986 and used for the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship, now the FIFA U-20 World Cup, the King Fahd International Stadium attracted a crowd of 65,000 for the final between Portugal and Nigeria. The venue also hosted all 16 matches during the 1997 FIFA Confederations Cup, as well as the final of the Asian Club Championship in both 1995 and 2000.
In 2014 King Fahd International Stadium hosted the second leg of the AFC Champions League final between Al Hilal and Western Sydney Wanderers, a match which ended in a goalless draw and meant the visitors were crowned Australia’s first Asian club champion.
In recent times, the King Fahd International Stadium has been among the ground used for Saudi Arabia’s 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.
A Match to Remember
With Saudi Arabia among the favourites to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia, it seems timely to roll back the years to when the nation last qualified for the quadrennial tournament.
Having missed out on the 2014 and 2010 editions, it was at the 2006 finals that the Green Falcons last appeared. And the match that secured their place in Germany was one that all Saudi fans will remember fondly.
Saudi Arabia went undefeated in the final round of qualifiers, and after beating Korea Republic and Kuwait at home and drawing with the Kuwaitis and Uzbekistan away, the stage was set for the Gulf nation to ensure their ticket to the 2006 World Cup against the Uzbeks in front of a sold-out King Fahd on June 3, 2005. Three goals later for the men in green and the World Cup dream was achieved; to scenes of celebration inside and outside the stadium.