SINGAPORE: Kallang is set to roar on Saturday (Nov 29) following a sharp spike in ticket sales for Singapore’s final Group B tie against Malaysia in the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup.
Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Myanmar has created renewed interest in the Lions, whose title defence had looked shaky following a 2-1 loss to Thailand in Sunday’s Group B opener.
Following attendances of 32,000 for Thailand and 24,000 for Myanmar, the National Stadium could see up to 45,000 spectators on Saturday, with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) reporting up to 65 per cent of tickets sold for the Causeway derby.
An estimated 4,000 tickets were sold on Thursday for Saturday’s Lions versus Harimau Malaya tie – the highest single-day sales since the start of the tournament – with both teams still in with the chance to make the final four. Prior daily tickets sales had averaged around 1,000.
Said an FAS spokesman: “Today was exceptional. With two more days to go before matchday, we are expecting more tickets to be sold. Maybe we will see more than 40,000 in the stadium on Saturday.”
With only 2,000 tickets allocated to Malaysian fans, crowd support should be overwhelming for the Lions, who are seeking to defend the crown they won two years ago, and seeking back-to-back championships, albeit under German Bernd Stange’s guidance this time.
Singapore could go through with a draw, provided Myanmar does not beat Thailand by a large margin in their final game, though Stange’s charges will be aiming for all three points, backed by the home crowd.
REVIVAL OF THE KALLANG ROAR
The revival of the famous Kallang Roar, though, is the least of Malaysian coach Dollah Salleh’s concern, as his side reflects on a disheartening 3-2 loss to Thailand at the Jalan Besar Stadium and now needing victory over Singapore to advance.
Dollah, 51, still believes things will come good for his team. “There is no pressure on me nor the team,” he said. “The stadium may be packed and the home crowd roaring, but for us, there is nothing to fear.
“Most of my players know the Singapore team too well and they know what to expect. I think it’s only another derby match – two teams that know each other well and know what to expect.”
Meanwhile, Stange is reflecting on the horrific ankle injury suffered by Shahdan Sulaiman during the first half against Myanmar. Shahdan had surgery on his broken fibula –he also suffered a dislocated ankle – and is set for up to six months on the sidelines.
With central defensive stalwart Baihakki Khaizan out after picking up a second yellow card in as many matches, Stange will also need to rejig his backline.
Said the 66-year-old German: “I will have to take a closer look at the situation and the final training session tomorrow will decide who goes into the starting 11. There are several options available, but the game plan is still to go out there and play for a win.”
“You can never plan for a draw, even though one point is good enough to take us into the final four.”
Baihakki’s absence is good news to Dollah, who believes his team is starting to come good.
“If you had watched us play against Myanmar in the opening match and then against the Thais on Wednesday, there are improvements in all aspects of our game,” said Dollah, who has only one win in seven matches since taking over as the Malaysian national coach.
“I am a slow starter as far as my coaching career is concerned. It will be a different Malaysia against Singapore on Saturday, I assure you.”