Football: Tampines' AFP Cup tie to be at Jalan Besar

Football fans cheering at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Football fans cheering at the Jalan Besar Stadium. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

They won't get National Stadium this time but chairman happy to play on 'home ground'

Despite backing from the Singapore Sports Hub, Tampines Rovers will not play the home leg of their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup quarter-final at the National Stadium.

Yesterday, an S-League spokesman said the Sept 21 clash against India's Bengaluru FC, which is the second leg, would take place at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

However, he added: "The Football Association of Singapore will always endeavour to host football matches at the National Stadium whenever it is feasible and bring good football entertainment to our fans at a bigger venue."

The first leg between the five-time S-League winners and the Indian champions will take place at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Sept 14 in Bangalore, Karnataka.

Tampines became the first S-League side to play at the National Stadium when they beat AFC Cup Group E rivals Selangor 1-0 in front of 11,875 fans last month.

The Straits Times understands that the Sports Hub had contacted Tampines chairman Krishna Ramachandra twice this month and was interested to host the club's last-eight home tie too.

"As part of our vision to make the National Stadium the home of Singapore football, Sports Hub would be glad to host the second leg of the AFC Cup quarter-final between Tampines Rovers FC and Bengaluru FC," a Sports Hub spokesman told ST yesterday.

PROS AND CONS

It would've been nice to see the fans turn up at the National Stadium in support of the club again.

But on the other hand, playing at Jalan Besar provides us with more of a home-ground advantage.

We're more used to playing on the surface (which has an artificial turf), compared to our opponents.

KRISHNA RAMACHANDRA, Tampines chairman, who is divided on whether it is better to play at Kallang or Jalan Besar.

The Kallang facility can seat 55,000 while Jalan Besar only holds up to 7,100 spectators.

Krishna expressed mixed feelings when he learnt that the Stags would not play at the National Stadium for the AFC Cup quarter-final.

He said: "It would've been nice to see the fans turn up at the National Stadium in support of the club again.

"But on the other hand, playing at Jalan Besar provides us with more of a home-ground advantage.

"We're more used to playing on the surface (which has an artificial turf), compared to our opponents."

The lawyer also held no regrets about not campaigning for the Stags to play at Kallang again, after his successful bid for the Selangor clash.

He said: "It can't be always an individual initiating the cause. The local football fraternity has to come together and support must come from the establishment."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2016, with the headline 'Stags' AFC Cup game to be at Jalan Besar'. Print Edition | Subscribe