Friday, 29 July 2011

Malaysian fans make it a carnival atmosphere

The National Stadium was filled to the brim with 90,000-odd fans hours before the 8.45pm kick-off. Outside, many more – including those with valid tickets – were still trying to get in.

That was the chaotic situation at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday as Malaysia did battle with Singapore in the second leg, second round of the Asian Zone World Cup qualifier.
Malaysia had lost the first leg tie 3-5 at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday.

But that did not stop the fans from converging on the National Stadium armed with flags, banners, scarves; dressed in the national stripes; and with their faces painted in the Harimau Malaya colours.

This is clearly one of the biggest ever turnout at the stadium since the opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games in 1998.

There is no love lost between the two national football teams. The traditional rivalry between the two cross–strait sides goes back a long way even in the Malaysia Cup more than two decades ago.

So passionate were these die-hard fans that they were willing to brave the notorious rush-hour traffic to make their way to the stadium as early as 4pm.

There were also scenes of mass celebration at Bukit Jalil as fans congregated outside the vicinity of the National Stadium for several hours before the 8.45pm kick-off.
They were seen waving the Jalur Gemilang and singing patriotic songs to make it look like the scene of National Day celebrations.

The noise went up a notch when the stadium turnstiles were opened at 5pm.

Once inside, the Malaysian supporters wasted no time in putting up giant banners around the stands. Among the standouts banners were the ones which read “Tanah Tumpahnya Darahku” and “100% Malaysians, No Foreigners”, in an apparent dig at Singapore’s use of naturalised players. A small section of the crowd turned up with cards written ‘3-0’, depicting the ideal scoreline required to go through.

In stark contrast to the sea of yellow and blue, the visiting fans numbering around 500 and decked in red and white were hardly visible in the stadium. The visiting supporters’ cheers were also drowned out by the vociferous jeers of the home team’s fans when the Singapore team trooped out onto the field.

Moments later, a deafening roar erupted when the Malaysian players and Rajagopal emerged from the tunnel for the warm-up.

Among the dignitaries present at last night’s match were Perak’s Sultan Azlan Shah, Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek.

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