AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 organisers have praised fans for embracing Asia’s biggest football tournament after attendances passed the 250,000 mark just eight days into the group stage.
Last night more than 33,000 fans turned out for games in Brisbane and Melbourne, bringing the total crowd for the first 16 games to 259,070.
According to AFC General Secretary, Dato’ Alex Soosay, the number of spectators is a cause for excitement for Asian football, and he believes that the numbers will only grow as the tournament progresses.
“We truly have a great tournament on our hands. The passion and enthusiasm in each of the matches played so far both on and off the pitch has been remarkable,” said Dato’ Alex.
“Great credit must be given to the Australian Local Organising Committee which has promoted the event wonderfully with activities and initiatives aimed at raising the interest of fans – like the AFC Asian Cup Adopt a Team program which encourages Aussies to support a second team.
“It is amazing that a match between Qatar and Iran in Australia could amass more than 22,000 supporters, while the match between Japan and Iraq had 22,941 people in the stadium.
"The travelling fans have been a joy to watch, as they not only support their team, but they also bring a touch of culture and uniqueness to the game.”
“I take my hat off to the fans. They are helping us achieve our dream of staging a tournament that will never be forgotten,” said Michael Brown, CEO of the Local Organising Committee.
“We have spent years preparing what we hoped would be a huge, multicultural celebration of football, and the fans are making that a reality.
“It’s not just the numbers – though they are impressive. It’s the passion and colour fans from all competing nations are bringing.
“The first Asian Cup on Australian soil is enjoying tremendous support at all five venues – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Newcastle.
“We are half-way through the tournament – 16 matches out of 32. But the big ones are still to come – the knockout matches of the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final itself – so we feel we are well on track to crack our target of half a million spectators.
“There are some games coming up where we expect very big crowds and people who want to attend quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final should buy their tickets now to avoid disappointment.”
The biggest crowd so far has been 50,276 at Sydney’s Stadium Australia for the host nation’s match against Oman.
Australia’s opening match against Kuwait at the smaller Melbourne Rectangular Stadium was a sell-out with an attendance of 25,231.
There is another Socceroos sell-out in Brisbane tonight for the game against Korea Republic.
Asia’s top-ranked team Iran have enjoyed superb support, drawing 17,712 against Bahrain in Melbourne and 22,672 against Qatar in Sydney.
Defending champions Japan attracted more than 17,000 against Palestine in Newcastle and another bumper gate of almost 23,000 against 2007 champions Iraq in Brisbane last night.
The average crowd for the group stage matches to date is 16,192.
The tournament is being financially supported by the Australian Government and the NSW, Victorian, Queensland and ACT Governments.
The Socceroos will face China PR in the Quarter-Finals of the AFC Asian Cup at Brisbane Stadium on Thursday 22 January (8.30pm local kick off). Click here to purchase tickets.
Opponent Watch: Deschamps slams ‘cocky’ France
The Caltex Socceroos weren’t the only team in pre-World Cup friendly action this weekend, with all three of their Group C opponents in Russia featuring in matches. And Australia’s first opponents at the World Cup France suffered a setback in their preparations against Colombia
Analysis: debutants Petratos, Susnjar the positives after Oslo loss
Result aside, Dimi Petratos and Aleksandar Susnjar had assured debuts on Saturday morning. It was encouraging to see two starting XI debutants given a chance in Bert van Marwijk’s first game in charge. REPORT: Caltex Socceroos undone by Norway in BvM's maiden match ANAL
'Emotional' Nabbout on a high after Caltex Socceroos debut
A proud Andrew Nabbout revelled in redemption on Saturday morning (AEDT) after capping a hard road to international football with a first Caltex Socceroos cap. Once on the outer of the Hyundai A-League, Nabbout joined his former Newcastle Jets team-mate Dimitri Petratos in Aus
Analysis: enthusiastic Norway give Australia plenty to ponder
Australia struggled to deal with an at-times direct Norway, but the Norwegians showed there is more to their game after a 4-1 win over the Caltex Socceroos overnight. Ola Kamara's well-taken hat-trick for Lars Lagerbeck's side the highlight for a Norway that released the shac