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Sanjay Nair
Sunday, Nov 2, 2014

Sports

Football: Just $8 to cheer the lions

The Straits Times | Sanjay Nair | Sunday, Nov 2, 2014

Prices will be kept affordable when Singapore take on the region's finest at the National Stadium in next month's ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup.

The Straits Times understands that ticket prices for the Lions' three group games will start as low as $8 while the best seats at the 55,000-seater facility will cost less than $50 per match.

It is believed that prices will be just as wallet-friendly at Jalan Besar Stadium, which will host three Group B fixtures that do not involve Singapore.

Fans forked out between $25 and $180 for a glamour friendly between Brazil and Japan a fortnight ago, with the presence of Neymar and Keisuke Honda ensuring it was the National Stadium's first sell-out.

A source said: "While the Brazil match drew a capacity crowd, a lot of people have still not been inside the new stadium due to pricing concerns.

"The Suzuki Cup is the best chance for a family to have a fun and affordable outing while supporting our national team."

Ticketing details will be released in the coming weeks.

Singapore have their work cut out to retain their regional crown, grouped alongside three-time winners Thailand as well as arch-foes Malaysia and Myanmar, who are led by former Lions coach Raddy Avramovic. Indonesia, the Philippines, Laos and co-hosts Vietnam are in Group A.

Organisers confirmed yesterday that the Lions' three group matches will go ahead at the venue, buoyed by assurances from Sports Hub officials that the sandy and patchy field is improving thanks to a clear schedule in the coming weeks.

But their Group B rivals face a prospect of playing on two vastly different surfaces over a week.

Thailand, for instance, open their campaign against Singapore on the National Stadium's hybdrid grass pitch on Nov 23, before switching over to Jalan Besar's artificial turf against Malaysia (Nov 26) and Myanmar (Nov 29).

Once a fortress for the LionsXII in the Malaysian Super League, the 8,000-capacity Jalan Besar has its detractors as the ball bounces differently and moves faster than on natural grass.

Thailand coach Kiatisuk Senamuang, who won three AFF titles as a player, said: "It's not going to be easy to adapt to different conditions.

"Mentally and physically, playing on turf requires different training than for grass, like how you control the ball or how hard you make a pass."

Malaysia coach Dollah Salleh also expressed concern over the artificial surface, even as it is approved by world governing body Fifa. He said: "It's a clear advantage for Singapore to play all three games at the same venue.

"The other three teams have to deal with Jalan Besar. We know from Malaysian league matches that it can have a negative impact on how a team performs because of the way the ball bounces."

The Lions, meanwhile, are looking forward to their debut at what they hope will be a rocking National Stadium.

Defender Safuwan Baharudin said: "The players have been waiting for the chance to play in a big venue that we can call our own.

"We hope the fans will come out and fill the stands - the 12th man could be the difference as every match will be tight."

nsanjay@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Oct 31, 2014.
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