When the National Stadium reopened its doors in 2014, there were hopes that the dazzling new facility would become a fortress for the Singapore football team. That vision now hangs in the balance.
The Straits Times understands as of Thursday night (Jan 13), that the Singapore Sports Hub and the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) have so far failed to agree on an extension of their memorandum of understanding (MOU). The MOU, which allows the Lions to play their matches at the 55,000-capacity venue at a lower-than-market rate, expired last month.
Here is a look at 10 memorable matches which gave birth to the famous Kallang Roar at the old National Stadium.
1) Kallang Roar, Take One
1973: The foundations of the Kallang Roar were laid in the all-attacking South-east Asian Peninsular Games semi-finals against South Vietnam. Singapore scored first through quick-silver Quah Kim Lye in his retirement season, valiantly fighting on before succumbing 3-5 on penalties after a 1-1 stalemate.
2) Malaysia Cup opener
April 1974: The storied Malaysia Cup tournament delivered drama right from its very first match at the stadium. In front of more than 15,000 fans who braved the rain, Lim Teng Sai's last-minute penalty earned Singapore a 2-1 win over Negeri Sembilan. That same year, a crowd of 65,000 - the biggest-ever attendance at the venue - were on hand for the Cup semi-final against Penang.
3) 'Gelek King'
1975: Arguably the best goal of Dollah Kassim's storied 11-year international career came in Singapore’s 2-0 Malaysia Cup victory over Pahang at the Grand Old Dame. Receiving the ball from midfield, the 'Gelek King' jinked past four opponents, before sending the goalkeeper the wrong way with a body feint to tap into an empty net. Cue mass hysteria in the stands - a new king was born.
4) David beats Goliath
1980: In an incredible upset, the Lions ousted China 1-0 in the pulsating pre-Olympics qualifying tournament, courtesy of a ping-ponging melee created by R. Suriamurthi’s banana corner and ending with Wong Kok Choy back-heading home.
5) Early preview of the Fandi-Sundram frontline
June 1983: A promising Singapore outfit reached the SEA Games football final for the first time. It was a treat to watch the burgeoning strikeforce of Fandi Ahmad and V. Sundramoorthy, but even the dynamic duo was not enough to prevent Thailand from emerging as 2-1 victors for the gold.
6) The day Singapore scored all four goals in a match - and still lost
June 1993: Singapore's bid for a maiden SEA Games football gold medal was derailed by two bizarre own goals by centre-back Lim Tong Hai. They blew a 2-0 lead against Myanmar in the semi-finals, going on to fall 4-5 on penalties after being tied at two goals apiece in extra time thanks to Tong Hai's blunders.
7) That goal from Sundram
September 1993: It was one of the best strikes that ever bulged the net at the National Stadium, one that kids across the country attempted to mimic in the playground. V. Sundramoorthy's overhead kick against Brunei in an FAM Division II League tie capped an 8-0 thumping and sealed his status as the 'Dazzler'.
8) Flying Fandi
May 1994: This was the match where the National Stadium literally shook. Star striker Fandi Ahmad's brace - including a diving header to cap off a sizzling counter-attack that remains a YouTube hit with Lions die-hards - gave the hosts a crucial 2-1 win over fellow Malaysian league title chasers Kedah. In front of a capacity crowd which included then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, the result all but secured Singapore's first major football trophy in 14 years. The team, which boasted fan favourites like Malek Awab and Abbas Saad, would go on to complete the double by lifting the Malaysia Cup.
9) Kings of Asean
January 2005: Led by hotshots Agu Casmir and Indra Sahdan, the Lions won the Tiger Cup (now known as the AFF Suzuki Cup) for the first time on home soil. In front of a buoyant sell-out crowd that brought back the Kallang Roar, Indonesia were beaten 2-1 (5-2 on aggregate) in the second leg of the final, a match that many national players remember fondly to this day for the atmosphere and post-match celebrations.
10) Seventh heaven
January 2007: It was the thrashing to end all thrashings. Laos were humbled 0-11 by the fiery Lions in their Asean Football Championship group match. Seven of those goals came via the head or boot of Noh Alam Shah, who was the region's most feared marksman at the time.
This article was first published on Oct 14 2014, ahead of the Brazil-Japan football friendly at the newly re-opened National Stadium in the Singapore Sports Hub.