Alessandro Del Piero is not only a fan of AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 but of the family-friendly ticket bargains that will help cement its place in Australian football folklore next summer.
"I think the prices are good, not too high, and will encourage everyone to watch. They will be great games and it will be a great event," said the tournament's global ambassador as organisers prepared to release the first venue packs for public sale.
"It's pretty smart to encourage families," said the former Italian, Juventus and Sydney FC great.
" It's fantastic when you can spend time with your children at top-level games like the Asian Cup. I think it's a great gift for them."
He plans to do just that himself in January 2015. "Yes, for sure. Why not? Australia has all the organisation and the stadiums to give a perfect welcome to the world," said Del Piero, who will appear again in Australia when the A-League All Stars play touring Juventus in August.
Del Piero believes the Socceroos have a "great possibility" of reaching the Asian Cup final on home soil, a prospect which should have stadiums buzzing in the five host cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Newcastle.
"They have a great opportunity to get energy from their own fans, getting great support from their friends and family and from all the country.
"In terms of crowd attention, media, sponsors and the commercial situation, Asia is the most interesting place in the world," he said.
Asian Cup venue packs go on sale to the general public at noon on Monday May 19.
They are the ultimate tickets for passionate fans wanting the best seats in the house for every match in one city, with a hefty saving of up to 20 per cent.
Highlights for fans buying venue packs in each of the five host cities include:
Sydney: Seven matches, including the final itself on January 31, one semi-final and one quarter- final. The semi and the final could involve the Socceroos. Sydney also hosts Australia's second group match against Oman and fellow World Cup finalist Iran's match against Qatar. All seven matches from $229.
Melbourne: One quarter-final plus six star-studded group matches, five of them involving past Asian Cup champions. Melbourne will not only host the opening ceremony, which precedes Australia's first match against Kuwait, but will provide the stage for Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, who between them have won 11 of the 15 Asian Cups decided so far. All seven matches from $159.
Brisbane: One quarter-final and six group matches, including the much anticipated showdown between World Cup finalists Australia and South Korea. Brisbane will also host another World Cup finalist in Iran, and a standout match between the past two Asian Cup champions, Japan and Iraq. "That's a world class game," says Paul Okon. "If you love football, who wouldn't want to go and watch such an event?" Brisbane also presents two matches involving China, sure to be followed by a large and colourful contingent from the local Chinese community. All seven matches from $139.
Canberra: One quarter-final and six group matches, including two featuring the mighty Korean Republic, World Cup finalists and twice former Asian Cup champions. Canberra will also host China's match against dark horse North Korea, and matches featuring past champions Iraq and Kuwait. All seven matches from $109.
Newcastle: Four matches, including two at the pointy end of the tournament, a semi-final and the play-off for third place, either of which could involve the Socceroos . Newcastle will also set the stage for the first appearance of the mighty Japanese, reigning Asian Cup champions, and former winner Kuwait's tough match against Oman. All four matches from $99.
Register now at afcasiancup.com for priority access to tickets.
The AFC Asian Cup is Asia’s biggest football competition and was established in 1956.
The 15 nations to qualify for AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 are Australia as hosts, defending champions Japan, Korea Republic and 2012 AFC Challenge Cup winners DPR Korea, along with Bahrain, China, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan.
The last spot will go to the winner of the AFC Challenge Cup, played later this month.
The 16 finalists will take part in a 23-day festival of football in five cities which the Socceroos will kick off on January 9, 2015, in Melbourne against Kuwait, with the final set for Sydney’s Stadium Australia on January 31, 2015.
The tournament is being financially supported by the Australian Government and the NSW, Victorian, Queensland and ACT Governments.
Fox Sports will broadcast the AFC Asian Cup throughout Australia.
Young Socceroos set for kick off in 2018 SBS Cup
A selection of Australia’s finest U18 footballers commence their 2018 SBS Cup campaign in Japan tomorrow evening. Ante Milicic’s side take on the host nation at Fujieda Stadium at 7.30pm kick off (AEST). AUSSIES ABROAD: Maclaren, Vukovic impress in Europe READ: Why Rene
Instant MLS impression a promising sign for Brad Smith
Brad Smith played just over four hours of football for Bournemouth last season. But it took 73 minutes for the Caltex Socceroos fullback to claim accord with new club Seattle Sounders after an impressive Major League Soccer debut yesterday. AUSSIES ABROAD: Maclaren, Vukovic
'It feels like I've never been away': Jamie Maclaren's relief after summer in the dark
From an initial FIFA World Cup™ omission to constant uncertainty over his future, it’s been a difficult summer for Jamie Maclaren. However, after making his first start of the season for Hibernian yesterday, the Caltex Socceroos striker feels right back at home in Scottish Pre