Tampines to host AFC Cup tie against Selangor at Singapore National Stadium
SINGAPORE, April 12 – Their signing of ex-Liverpool and Arsenal player Jermaine Pennant went a long way to reinvigorating the local football scene, and now, Tampines Rovers will provide their fans with yet another treat as they are set to host their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup match against Selangor at the National Stadium next month.
Following close to two months of fruitful discussions between Sport Singapore (SportSG) and the Singapore Sports Hub (SSH), the Stags were finally given the green light to stage the May 10 tie after getting the approval by the AFC.
The match, which will be Tampines’ last game in the AFC Cup group stage, will see them become the first local team to play a competitive fixture at the National Stadium.
Tampines chairman Krishna Ramachandra expressed his delight at being able to stage the match at the 55,000-seater venue, and believes it will give the local football scene another boost.
“This all came about with a discussion with SportSG CEO Lim Teck Yin, and he felt that we needed to revive the Singapore football fans base engagement and I agreed with him,” said Ramachandra.
“We brought in the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) and had an alignment of minds where all parties thought this is something fantastic not just for Tampines, but also for Singapore football.
“We then wrote in to the AFC and they agreed. It was the last piece of the jigsaw, so now it’s all systems go.”
S.League CEO Lim Chin praised the move to stage the match at the National Stadium, and added: “This is indeed great news for the S.League that a local club will be playing at the National Stadium for the first time and I think it is doubly wonderful that the club is flying Singapore’s flag on this occasion.
“We hope all local football fans will come down to the National Stadium to cheer on Tampines Rovers in their AFC Cup tournament.”
The FAS and Tampines are still working out pricing details for the match, although Ramachandra promised that it would be made “affordable in order to allow as many people from all strata of society to own the event and come and support the team”.
The past two AFC Cup home games that Tampines have been involved in saw over 2,000 spectators turn up at each match.
However, with their clash against Selangor now set to be staged at the National Stadium, Ramachandra has set his sights on attracting a much larger crowd for the tie.
“I am an optimist, so I’m hoping for a record crowd for this,” Ramachandra revealed. “I don’t know how this is going to pan out, but hopefully we might even hit between 20,000 to 30,000 fans coming down to catch the game.
“We need to aim big, because it’s a rare opportunity for us. It helps also that we have the majority of the Singapore national team players at Tampines.
“But this is not, and has never been, a Tampines Rovers show. We should do this more often in the coming months or years because it will be beneficial for Singapore football as a whole.”
Tampines are currently top of AFC Cup Group E on seven points after three games, and will take on Philippines outfit Ceres La Salle tomorrow (April 12). ― TODAY