Fans go wild as South Korea arrives in Canberra for the Asian Cup

Any doubts about how big the Asian Cup is were silenced with the wild screaming that accompanied the South Korean team on its arrival in Canberra.

Enthusiastic fans struggled to control themselves as their heroes walked off their team bus and into the foyer of Hotel Realm at lunchtime on Tuesday.

Eun Hee Kim of Barton screams out as players from the South Korean Soccer team arrive.
Eun Hee Kim of Barton screams out as players from the South Korean Soccer team arrive. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

With South Korea holding a closed training session on Tuesday night at Deakin Stadium, this was one of the few chances for fans to see one of the tournament heavyweights up close.

Organisers are expecting an impressive crowd of 15,000 to flock to Canberra Stadium on Saturday to see South Korea take on Oman in the first of seven Asian Cup games in Canberra.

The Asian Cup is the largest soccer tournament in the world this year, with millions of dollars expected to be pumped into the ACT economy.

The tournament will have an estimated television audience of 800 million, while three countries have held pre-tournament camps at the AIS.


Canberra resident Eun Hee Kim was among the South Korean supporters at the hotel to greet the team.

She was barely able to contain herself as she got photos with the team, an opportunity she said was impossible in her homeland.

"I feel very lucky that I live in Canberra and I still get to see the Korean team," Mrs Kim said.

"I was so excited to see them.

"Even in Korea, I've never seen them, they're very famous."

None more so than midfielder Ki Sung-yeung, who plys his trade with English Premier League club Swansea.

But it's not just his on-field talents that catch the eye.

"He married an actress and is very attractive," Mrs Kim laughed.

"I'm sure we can win the Asian Cup."

South Korea is ranked 69th in the world and is the third highest-ranked Asian nation behind Iran (51) and Japan (54).

The benefits of having the Asian Cup in Canberra extend far beyond seeing some of the world's best soccer teams in the flesh.

Oman, Qatar and Kuwait have held pre-tournament training camps in the city, injecting $1 million into the local economy, along with forging business ties with the region.

Oman Football Association chairman Khalid Bin Hamed Al Busaldi described Canberra as having the "perfect environment" for preparing for a major sporting event.

"Canberra is a fantastic city for sports and it's a model for the rest of the world," Mr Al Busaldi said.

"We would like to learn from this experience because we are in the process of some facilities in Oman in terms of sports excellence.

"Hopefully we can build some relationships in the coming months to do something together in the field of sports."

Mr Al Busaldi also hoped Canberrans learnt about Oman through its participation in the Asian Cup.

"There's great opportunities for investors from this part of the world in Oman in terms of tourism and development," he said.

"With Oman being located in the eastern side of the Arabian peninsula, it offers a lot in terms of tourism and investment opportunities."