World Football - Melbourne to host 2015 Asian Cup opener

The 2015 Asian Cup will kick off in Melbourne in January 2015 with the 32-match tournament culminating at Sydney's Stadium Australia.

Reuters
World Football - Melbourne to host 2015 Asian Cup opener
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South Korea's Ji scores past Uzbekistan's Nesterov during their 2011 Asian Cup third place playoff soccer match in Doha

Melbourne would also host the opening ceremony before the three-week, 32-match tournament culminates in the final at Sydney's Stadium Australia on January 31, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said on Wednesday.

"Looking at the progress made so far and Australia's rich sporting culture, I expect this AFC Asian Cup to be better than all previous editions," AFC vice president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah said in a statement.

Brisbane, Canberra and Newcastle are the three other venues for the 16th edition of the tournament, which Australian Sports Minister Kate Lundy believes will strengthen the country's image as a major sporting nation.

"The spin-off from the cup will be enormous for Australia with a global TV audience of more than 2.5 billion people expected and an estimated 45,000 international visitors set to visit our shores," she said.

As well as the hosts, North Korea, reigning champions Japan and 2011 third-placed finishers South Korea have already booked their places at the 16-team finals.

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