Football: Confirmed - Lionel Messi and Argentina stars to play in Singapore

Lionel Messi scoring in a World Cup qualifier last month. His current ban from competitive matches does not cover friendlies.
Lionel Messi scoring in a World Cup qualifier last month. His current ban from competitive matches does not cover friendlies.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Argentina footballers face Lions on June 13 in National Stadium friendly during Asian tour

Argentina superstar Lionel Messi, widely regarded as the world's best footballer, is set to play at the National Stadium on June 13.

The 29-year-old Barcelona forward will lead his country in a friendly against the Lions.

The Straits Times reported in February that Argentina - ranked No. 2 in Fifa's world rankings - could play a game at the National Stadium.

Yesterday came confirmation of the match, which will mark the 125th anniversary of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).

Apart from Messi, Paris Saint-Germain winger Angel di Maria and Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero are also likely to feature for the South American giants.

Organised by the FAS and international sport and entertainment promoter Unicess, the match is part of a four-nation tour that will see Argentina play top-ranked Brazil in Melbourne on June 9, while the latter will take on Australia in Melbourne on June 13.

There were doubts as to Messi's participation, as he was given a four-match ban for swearing at a match official during last month's World Cup qualifier against Chile.

However, the suspension is for competitive internationals and not for friendlies, and he will be eligible to play in Singapore - should he be selected as expected.

Lions coach V. Sundramoorthy is looking forward to leading his charges against the two-time world champions, adding that he hopes Singaporeans will be in full force to cheer on his team.

He said: "The FAS has worked very hard to finalise the match, which will benefit our players and coaches in terms of invaluable exposure as well as enhance the level of sporting entertainment for fans in Singapore.

"A packed stadium on June 13 will make a huge difference and give our players the boost they need against a team with so many talented world-class players."

Unicess chief executive officer and founder Aiden Kwangik Moon believes the match will not only attract local football fans, but also those from around the region.

"The game... will attract football fans from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and other nearby countries and will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see this generation of Argentinian players compete in Singapore," he added.

"We look forward to welcoming football fans and families alike as they witness these world-class players in action and create some unforgettable memories."

Tickets to the Singapore-Argentina match are available at www.sportshubtix.sg from 9am today, priced from $40 to $188 each. Children's and senior citizens' tickets are available at $25 apiece.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2017, with the headline 'Confirmed - Messi & stars to play here'. Print Edition | Subscribe