Football: Malaysia and Singapore rekindle 'romance'

SINGAPORE - The fierce South-east Asian soccer rivalry between Malaysia and Singapore will take on a fresh edge next year with national youth teams competing in each other's domestic leagues.

Under a memorandum of understanding to forge closer soccer ties and improve standards, an Under 23 Malaysian Tigers team will take part in the S.League from 2012, replacing Singapore's Young Lions.

The Singaporean side will play in the Malaysia Super League and domestic cup competitions.

"There is always a special romance between Singapore and Malaysia football," Football Association of Singapore President Zainudin Nordin said in a statement.

"I am pleased with this football partnership and am confident that it will further strengthen our ties with the (Football Association of Malaysia) FAM."

The four-year agreement will also see the domestic league champions from each country go head-to-head in a new League Champions Challenge tournament with a similar competition for the two cup winners.

The move marks an end to Malaysia's three-year ban on foreign teams contesting their domestic tournaments and will increase the number of non-Singaporean sides in the 12-team S.League to three.

The announcement comes shortly before south-east Asian champions Malaysia face their rivals in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Asian second round qualifiers later this month.