Football: Freshly laid pitch ahead of Thursday's World Cup qualifiers

Work has been completed on the National Stadium's replica field, with the original surface taken for maintenance.
Work has been completed on the National Stadium's replica field, with the original surface taken for maintenance. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

The Lions will have fresh grass to prowl on for the upcoming football World Cup qualifiers at the National Stadium.

Work was completed on Thursday on replacing the field - used for the first time at June's SEA Games - with a replica pitch previously grown and stored at the Kranji Sanctuary Golf Course.

The original "lay-and-play" surface, combining natural and artificial grass in a roll of turf, has been transported back to the nursery for rejuvenation. The costs involved were not disclosed.

It is understood that the Singapore Sports Hub made the swop after taking into account recent events at the 55,000-seat venue, including the Sing50 concert and The Straits Times Run at the Hub.

Jose Raymond, the Sports Hub's senior director for corporate communications and stakeholder management, said: "A new turf has been laid at the National Stadium to ensure a robust playing surface for the players and a thrilling spectacle for the fans.

"The Singapore Sports Hub will continue to work closely with all our strategic partners to deliver world-class events in a world-class facility for Singaporeans."

Known officially as Eclipse Stabilised Turf, the pitch received top marks from English football clubs Arsenal, Everton and Stoke at the Barclays Asia Trophy in July.

The original Desso GrassMaster field came under fire last year from the likes of Brazil football coach Dunga and the New Zealand Rugby Union for its patchy surface and sandy conditions.

Singapore's next four qualifying fixtures will be played at Kallang, starting with Afghanistan's visit next Thursday.

All eyes are on the Nov 12 clash against four-time Asian champions Japan after a goal-less draw in Saitama in June.

Ahead of the Afghanistan game, the Lions are set to train on the new pitch for the first time on Tuesday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2015, with the headline 'Freshly laid pitch ahead of World Cup qualifiers'. Print Edition | Subscribe