SINGAPORE — It was originally slated as the first big football match for the new National Stadium at the Sports Hub, but the Singapore versus Malaysia match could be pushed back even further.
The Causeway derby was initially planned for Aug 8, but was postponed after the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) said it needed more time to prepare for the event.
An alternative date of Sept 6 was discussed, with the match between the two traditional rivals seen as having the potential to fill the new 55,000-seater stadium.
But if new Malaysian coach Dollah Salleh has his way, the much-anticipated clash will take place on Nov 15. That is the date Dollah and the Malaysian national team management committee pencilled in when they met in Kuala Lumpur last week, as they try to map out the team’s itinerary for the coming year.
The FAS has been informed of its Malaysian counterpart’s request for a new date, and FAS director of communication and marketing Gerard Wong says both parties are working closely to secure a new date for the match. “Dates in September and November have emerged as options,” Wong said.
Dollah, who took over at the helm of the Malaysian National team two weeks ago, replacing caretaker coach Ong Kim Swee, has told TODAY the calendar for the Malaysian national team means he wants to firm up the Nov 15 date for the Singapore game at the National Stadium, as it suits the flow of other games scheduled for that period.
“We felt that since the ASEAN Football Federation Championship (Suzuki Cup) kicks off on Nov 22, playing Singapore a week earlier would serve as our final warm-up match. Before that, we have a match against Jordan scheduled in October, and also possibly New Zealand in the same month,” Dollah said.
Former Singapore head coach PN Sivaji think it is strange that a proper date cannot be set for the match after such long deliberations.
“The football associations of Malaysia and Singapore should have known their calendar for the next three years already, and should be able to confirm something,” said Sivaji, 63, who now works with FIFA and the Asian Football Confederaton on a project basis to provide coaching and technical services.
For diehard Singapore fan Mohammad Ariff, this latest news is yet another letdown.