Pitch woes resurface at the National Stadium

Sections of the National Stadium pitch appeared to be sandy.
Sections of the National Stadium pitch appeared to be sandy. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Parts of the National Stadium pitch were parched and not in pristine condition on May 9, 2016.
Parts of the National Stadium pitch were parched and not in pristine condition on May 9, 2016.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER
White markings from the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens held in the previous month were still visible on the pitch in the National Stadium on May 9, 2016.
White markings from the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens held in the previous month were still visible on the pitch in the National Stadium on May 9, 2016.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

As Tampines Rovers battled Selangor in the Asian Football Confederation Cup last night, the National Stadium's turf came under scrutiny again.

Sandy patches were observed across the pitch as players were seen slipping and losing their their footing when they changed directions.

Stags winger Jermaine Pennant said: "When you grip into it and turn, it moves and slides. It's very sandy.

"(It's not ideal) for players like me. If we play on this pitch again, hopefully they can put out a better surface."

While Tampines captain Fahrudin Mustafic called the 55,000-seater ground "a wonderful stadium", there was no canvas for the ball artists to paint their masterpiece.

He said: "The pitch was slippery and bumpy, and we had to take an extra touch to bring the ball under control.

"It was my first time playing here. Despite the condition (of the pitch), the stadium was beautiful and the turnout was great."

 

When the National Stadium reopened in 2014, its $800,000 Desso GrassMaster pitch was unable to grow properly because the stadium's dome design did not allow sufficient sunlight in.

It was solved only after the Sports Hub invested more than $2 million in growth lights and a "lay-and-play" surface with warm weather grass, only for the problems to resurface.

For striker Billy Mehmet, who played for Malaysian states Kedah and Sarawak, the sandy pitch was not a big shock.

He said: "It was tough and sandy, but I was focused on the game, so the condition of the pitch didn't matter for me.

"I'm used to playing on such surfaces in Malaysia, and the conditions were the same for both teams so it was fair. Playing here was a boost for the team, and we are hoping for more opportunities in the future."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2016, with the headline 'Pitch woes resurface'. Print Edition | Subscribe