National Stadium was already fully booked before FAM submitted AFF Cup application last August

The National Stadium in Bukit Jalil was not supposed to host the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Cup.

This is because the FA of Malaysia (FAM) had submitted its application to book the stadium for the regional tournament last August, despite the fact that the venue had been booked earlier for three other events.

It is learnt that FAM’s application was initially rejected by the Malaysia Stadium Board (PSM) as the National Stadium was to host live performances by Mayday, JJ Lin, and Jay Chou.

The venue was booked from late November to the middle of this month, to facilitate the fixing and removal of stage equipment and other props for the concerts.

Nevertheless, the board agreed to allow one friendly match and two AFF Cup group stage matches to be played at the venue. Malaysia played Cambodia in a friendly match on Dec 9, followed by two AFF Cup group matches (Laos on Dec 24; Singapore on Jan 3).

The Harimau Malaya made it to the semi-finals of the tournament after defeating Singapore 4-1 in the final group match. The host team will play Thailand in the first semifinal leg on Jan 7.

Jay Chou’s concert was initially scheduled for February 2020, but was postponed to Aug 22 that year due to Covid-19. It was supposed to be held at the National Stadium on Feb 19, 2022 but was postponned, yet again to Jan 7, 2023. In May 2022, the organiser said that the concert will be held on Jan 15, 2023 instead.

The concert, which is expected to draw some 40,000 fans in Kuala Lumpur, is part of the artist’s international tour.

As a result, 21,000 seats in the stadium have been cordoned off for this Saturday’s match as the view was being obstructed by a structure (main image) for the upcoming concert.

FAM, this afternoon, revealed that all 59,000 tickets for the Malaysia-Thailand clash had been sold.

The two-legged finals of the AFF Cup will be held on Jan 13 and Jan 16.

The National Stadium was ordered shut last June, after it came under scrutiny following the Bahrain-Malaysia Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup qualifier.

The teams played on a rain-soaked pitch following a downpour prior to the 9pm kick-off. Several individuals were seen using dustpans and cardboards to remove water from the field.

Their actions were lambasted by PSM as the stadium owners insisted that the drainage system was working but that it needed time to channel out the water.

Match officials, however, deemed the field playable and allowed for the match to go on as scheduled. Malaysia lost 2-1 in that match.

Among the facilities that had been repaired in stages since the temporary closure, were the toilets, walkways, electrical components, and the roof.

Nevertheless, the stadium hosted the FA Cup (Sept 10) and Malaysia Cup (Nov 26) finals last year.

Work on the new pitch is expected to start in March, after the Blackpink concert. The structure of the field was last upgraded in 2013, while the turf was replaced in 2015.

Main image by Fina Nasrom

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