AFF Suzuki Cup: Myanmar fans lament shortage of tickets

Myanmar fans, who turned out in droves to watch the match against Singapore on Wednesday, are upset that not more tickets are made available for them to catch the tie against Thailand today. They insisted they are not trouble-makers.
Myanmar fans, who turned out in droves to watch the match against Singapore on Wednesday, are upset that not more tickets are made available for them to catch the tie against Thailand today. They insisted they are not trouble-makers.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

There were only 2,750 Myanmar fans amid a 24,000-strong crowd at the National Stadium on Wednesday when Myanmar faced Singapore in their second AFF Suzuki Cup match.

Yet, they managed to out-cheer the Singaporeans, even as their national side went down 2-4.

Unfortunately, just over half of that Myanmar contingent will be allowed into the Jalan Besar Stadium tonight when their team take on Thailand in their final Group B match.

In a statement to The Straits Times, Football Association of Singapore marketing and communications director Gerard Wong said only 1,500 tickets will be allocated to fans of each side for the match at Jalan Besar - the same arrangement as for the other two matches there - due to security requirements imposed by the authorities.

Furthermore, unsold tickets from either allotment will be made available only to neutral fans.

With Myanmar's allocation sold out three days after the start of ticket sales earlier this month, their fans are disappointed that they cannot buy any unsold tickets from the Thai allotment.

Said San Lin Latt, 33, a technician who has worked in Singapore for 10 years: "Our people are crazy about football, especially when it comes to supporting our national team. With many Myanmar citizens studying and working here, more tickets should be made available to us if possible.

"I understand the security concerns as Myanmar fans probably have a bad image after the last time our team played here in the 2004 AFF Cup semi-finals, but we're trying to show that is no longer the case."

Back then, one Myanmar fan was arrested after invading the pitch of the old National Stadium and assaulting a security official after the tie ended 4-2 after extra time in Singapore's favour.

Supporters from both camps also exchanged taunts and threw objects at each other.

San is adamant that violence is now a thing of the past and noted: "We've been peaceful during matches and volunteered to clear our own trash after games and we hope others can see we don't want trouble."

Added Myat Su Mon, 27, a project administrator who has stayed in Singapore for over two years: "I'm sure some Singaporeans have friends or colleagues from Myanmar and will know how polite we usually are. We just want to cheer our team on and not cause trouble so it's a shame we can't get more tickets to do just that."

The level of support was acknowledged by Myanmar coach Raddy Avramovic in a press conference yesterday.

He said: "I want to thank the supporters because they supported us still even when we were 0-3 down against Singapore and the players fought back a bit in the second half."

But the Serb believes his side must tighten up the backline to stand a chance of making their second semi-final appearance.

To qualify as Group B runners-up, Myanmar need to defeat Thailand by a four-goal margin and hope the Singapore-Malaysia tie ends in a draw.

"We showed that we can reach a higher level of play but we can't allow others to score easy goals like Singapore," said Avramovic.

But his side will face a Thailand side who are likely to field a strong line-up even though they have qualified for the semi-finals.

Said assistant coach Klairung Treejaksung: "We have some players who may be injured or fatigued but we will still field the best-possible side... (as) we are still hungry for another win."

terong@sph.com.sg

Thailand v Myanmar mio TV Ch115 & StarHub Ch209, 7.55pm