Football: Tampines Rovers could play AFC Cup tie against Selangor at National Stadium in May

Tampines Rovers training for AFC cup game (versus Lt Sheikh Jamal Dhanmond) at the Jalan Besar Stadium, on Feb 22 2016.
Tampines Rovers training for AFC cup game (versus Lt Sheikh Jamal Dhanmond) at the Jalan Besar Stadium, on Feb 22 2016.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
Tampines Rovers' Jermaine Pennant (right, in blue) in action during the AFC Cup Group E match against Bangladesh outfit Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi at Jalan Besar Stadium on Feb 23, 2016.
Tampines Rovers' Jermaine Pennant (right, in blue) in action during the AFC Cup Group E match against Bangladesh outfit Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi at Jalan Besar Stadium on Feb 23, 2016.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - Tampines Rovers could become the first local football team to play a competitive fixture at the National Stadium since the Grand Old Dame reopened its doors in June 2014.

The Straits Times understands that discussions have begun between Sport Singapore, Singapore Sports Hub and Tampines about possibly staging the Stags' Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup match against Selangor at the 55,000-seat venue.

The match, currently scheduled for May 10 at the Jalan Besar Stadium, is Tampines' last game of the AFC Cup group stage. However, any switch in venue will have to be approved by governing body the AFC.

As of now, the National Stadium is available for hire for the period leading up to, and after, the match.

Tampines chairman Krishna Ramachandra said the idea was mooted on Friday, but that discussions are very much at a nascent phase.

He added: " I hope we can work something out with other parties concerned. It will be a great barometer of the current level of interest in the game. After all, it doesn't get any bigger than playing against perennial rivals Selangor.

"Football is an emotional game for the fans - interests needs not only to be be piqued but it has to be sustained. We hope this great opportunity is seized and showcases Singapore football to the fans."

The last event at the National Stadium before May 10 is the Apr 16-17 HSBC World Rugby Singapore Sevens, while the next event after is the Super Rugby match between Japan's Sunwolves and South Africa's Stormers on May 14. The time taken to switch the venue from football to rugby mode is approximately 48 hours.

Those involved hope to stoke memories of the fierce Singapore-Selangor rivalry in the 80s, which were often titanic clashes featuring the likes of Fandi Ahmad, Samad Allapitchay, Mokhtar Dahari and Soh Chin Aun.

The Stags, boosted by star signing Jermaine Pennant, started the group stage with a 4-0 win over Bangladeshi side Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi last Tuesday and top Group E with three points. They defeated Hougang United 4-1 on Friday night and are currently third in the nine-team S-League after two games.

While hosting the match at a world-class facility would be a boost for local football, one area of concern for the organisers would be security.

Two years ago, fans of Malaysian team Johor Darul Takzim clashed with security officials at the Jalan Besar Stadium, which led to the arrest of five Malaysians.

Heightened security measures could be required if a large number of fans are expected, which could also mean higher costs for operators.

Kallang has hosted S-League clubs before, most notably in the league's inaugural season in 1996. That same year, a league record 28,800 fans showed up at the National Stadium to watch Geylang take on Woodlands Wellington.