Football: Historic rivalry between Singapore and Malaysia to be renewed at Kallang

Singapore veteran striker Aleksandar Duric (in red) in action at the Shah Alam Stadium on June 12, 2012 during the Causeway Challenge. Malaysia won 2-0.
Singapore veteran striker Aleksandar Duric (in red) in action at the Shah Alam Stadium on June 12, 2012 during the Causeway Challenge. Malaysia won 2-0. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - The Causeway football rivalry will be renewed on Friday night (Oct 7) at the National Stadium as the Singapore team face arch-rivals Malaysia in a friendly Causeway Challenge match. The Straits Times look at the rich football rivalry between the two neighbours.

1. The Causeway Challenge had its share of fiery encounters

The Causeway derby was first held in 2005, when it used to be a two-legged contest. The friendly matches were part of an initiative by the Football Associations of Singapore and Malaysia to revive the football rivalry between the two countries.

It used to be the highlight of the football calendar on both sides of the Causeway. When football fever for these two national teams was at its peak in the 1980s and early 1990s, queueing overnight for tickets was not uncommon.

The Causeway Challenge was last held in 2012 and it was a heated affair. Scuffles between fans from both sides broke out at Jalan Besar Stadium in the first leg (watch below) that ended 2-2.

A group of Malaysian Ultras burned signs of Singapore currency, and booed when Singapore's national anthem was played in  the second leg at the Shah Alam Stadium. Malaysia ended Singapore's 10-match unbeaten streak in their head-to-head record spanning eight years, beating their old rivals 2-0, as the highlights below show.

2. The tension spilled over into the cyberspace in 2011

After Singapore advanced to the third round of World Cup qualifiers at the expense of Malaysia, beating them 6-4 on aggregate, an online war broke out among its supporters. Malaysian fans, incensed by what they felt was the Lions' time-wasting tactics during the second leg of the second-round qualifier in Kuala Lumpur, created a Facebook page mocking the Singapore national side.

The spiteful nature of the discussions, peppered with obscenities and racist remarks, prompted concern in the football fraternities of both countries.

Tensions ran high during the first leg in Singapore on July 23, when missiles from Malaysia's travelling fans rained down on the Jalan Besar Stadium field after the Lions' fourth goal. The return leg was even more ill-tempered. Water bottles were aimed at the Singapore players after the final whistle, while Lions goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud was targeted by laser pointers during the game to distract him.

3. Several veterans in Singapore squad featured in first Causeway Challenge in 2005

In V. Sundramoorthy's 25-strong squad, Baihakki Khaizan, Daniel Bennett, Fahrudin Mustafic, Izwan Mahbud, Hariss Harun, Yasir Hanapi played in the event's first edition.

4. When it comes to Causeway derby, Malaysia reign supreme

Malaysia own a 22-19 edge over Singapore. The two sides have drawn 23 times in 64 meetings. Singapore are eager to erase painful memories of their most recent loss to Malaysia at the National Stadium in 2014, when they were beaten 3-1 and bundled out of the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup group stages.

5. Singapore's heaviest loss to Malaysia happened twice

The Tigers thrashed the Lions 6-0 not once, but twice. The first defeat came in the Olympic qualifiers in 1976 in Jakarta, and the second happened in 1978 at the Merdeka tournament. The Lions' biggest win over Malaysia was a 4-0 mauling in the 1985 Merlion Cup.

Below are highlights, though, of Malaysia's 4-0 mauling of the Lions to knock them out of the 2002 Tiger Cup group stage, which saw the exit of then-national coach Jan Poulsen.