Selangor are excited by the prospect of playing what will be a do-or-die AFC Cup tie at the Sports Hub, saying that it could possibly be to their advantage.
Selangor and Tampines are tied on seven points with two matches to play, while Philippines’ Ceres top the group on eight points.
The match was initially scheduled to take place at the Jalan Besar Stadium, which has a synthetic pitch that Malaysian teams complained about when LionsXII were part of the Malaysia Super League (MSL).
However, the Stag announced that they have secured the approval required to host their final game at the new National Stadium at the Sports Hub on May 10.
This was music to Selangor head coach Zainal Abidin Hassan's ear.
“Sports Hub has a grass pitch … it may be better actually. We are not really accustomed to the surface at the Jalan Besar Stadium,” said Zainal.
For club top scorer Patrick Wleh, it was a chance to play at a venue that has earned positive reviews and hosted the likes of Juventus, Arsenal and Everton in the past.
“I like big games and this is labelled as the first visit of a Malaysian club. It’s a nice stadium and many things have been said about it,” said the Liberian international.
The ground has seen some great battles between teams from both nations before the Kallang Stadium was demolished in 2010 and only the Malaysia national team has played at the Sport Hub since it was built.
Malaysians have fond memories of their visit to Singapore for the AFF Suzuki Cup Group A decider in November 2014 as then-national team coach Dollah Salleh guided the Tigers to a 3-1 win, with stoppage-time goals from Safiq Rahim and Indra Putra Mahayuddin knocking the Lions out of the tournament.
Selangor’s Khairul Azhan Khalid, Azmi Muslim and Hafiz Kamal were on the bench that night.
“We need to keep Malaysia’s record there intact … it’s always a proud moment getting a result in Singapore. Otherwise, I see it as just another game. We can’t be thinking too much about which stadium we are playing in,” said forward Ahmad Hazwan Bakri.