Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tour of Footy My Dinh Stadium

Asian Cup 2007.
Traveling to Hanoi for the Asian Cup or simply happen to be in town and want to check out a game? Here’s a hassle-free guide to getting to My Dinh Stadium and what you can expect when you get there.

My Dinh Stadium is Vietnam’s largest stadium, with a seating capacity of 40,000. Named after the area in Tu Liem District it’s located in, the stadium opened in the fall of 2003 and as such is as modern a facility as you’ll find in Southeast Asia.

Despite the existence of a running track, the view from the stands is excellent in this compact ground located roughly 10 kilometers northwest of the heart of Hanoi.

If you’re unfortunate enough to have a ticket to a match on a rainy day, make sure you bring an umbrella, as the majority of the seats are exposed to the elements. You’ll only be spared if you’re in the middle and upper tiers of the east and west stands.

Getting there: Forget walking, cycling or busing it unless you’re keen on adventure (and have a lot of spare time on your hands). Taxis are the only way to go. From the city center - i.e. in the vicinity of Hoan Kiem Lake - the stadium can be reached in 20 minutes at a cost of about 100,000 VND ($6.20 US). The taxis are metered and the drivers are by and large aboveboard. They also appreciate tips, although this is by no means required.

Warning: Be sure to specify you want to go to My Dinh Stadium or you may wind up being shuttled to the older Hanoi Stadium closer to town.



What to expect: The stadium may look like your typical modern sports facility, but don’t expect the creature comforts you might be used to in the West. If you find yourself parched on a hot day, for example, you stand a better chance of running into Elvis than getting a cold drink. Refrigeration isn't an option at My Dinh. What you get instead are bags of lukewarm water fastened with twist ties and straws sticking out the top. That and cans of warm soft drinks and bottled water.

You’re in slightly better luck if you’re hungry. Hot dog-shaped meat on a stick can be transferred to a bun outfitted with local condiments. A tasty treat indeed. Bags of crisps and other assorted junk food can also be had.

Ringing the stadium are a smattering of souvenir shops where you’ll find official AFC merchandise at official AFC prices. T-shirts go for $15 US, but you’ll only be able to wear Japan or Vietnam on your chest--for some reason, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates didn’t make the cut. Baseball caps and tournament programs are also on sale.



The atmosphere ranges from electric (when the home team is playing) to comatose (anyone catch Japan vs. Qatar the other night?). Safety isn’t an issue, although things could be fairly tense for Japan supporters when Ivica Osim's squad take on the co-hosts July 16. The odds of a full-scale riot breaking out aren’t high though, as the fans are well-mannered and there are plenty of security personnel on hand to ensure they stay that way.

Copyright © C.G. Williams & Soccerphile.com



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