SINGAPORE - From the days of the Malaysia Cup to the Asian Football Federation Championship, there is perhaps no other tie that gets football fans on both sides of the Causeway more riled up than Singapore versus Malaysia. With the next "Causeway Clash" set to happen on Wednesday (Aug 16) in their South-east Asia Games group match, The Straits Times looks at the rich football rivalry and history between the two neighbours.
1. Drawn in same 2017 SEA Games group
The stage is set for the latest episode of the Singapore-Malaysia footballing rivalry, with the Singapore U-22 team very likely needing a positive result against their Malaysian opponents at the Shah Alam Stadium in Kuala Lumpur to progress out of the group stage.
The Young Lions face a challenging first two games at the SEA Games, taking on Myanmar on Monday before they play the SEA Games hosts two days later. Laos and Brunei are the other two teams in Group A. Young Lions coach Richard Tardy has said that the team will need at least two points from their first two matches to have a chance of achieving their objective of reaching the semi-finals.
He told The New Paper on Aug 11: "We have to be realistic, Myanmar and Malaysia are better than Singapore at this moment, but this is football, every game is different and anything can happen in football. I told the players that we need to get two points from our first two games if we want to qualify for the semi-finals, but I believe we can make the target."
The 29th SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur (Aug 19 to 30) will be available for streaming on three live channels on digital service Toggle, as well as free-to-air TV channel okto. Fans can follow the Young Lions on Toggle starting from Monday, when they play Myanmar.
2. Traditionally a fiery affair
The Singapore-Malaysia derby 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 rivalry lay dormant for a number of years until the first Causeway Challenge was held in 2005, back 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.
The 2016 edition at the National Stadium ended in 0-0 stalemate, with V. Sundramoorthy's men unable to find a way past their rivals despite several good chances.
Before last year, the previous Causeway Challenge was held in 2012, and 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 burnt 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.
3. Rivalry goes online 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.
4. 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.
5. Malaysia hold the bragging rights, for now
Malaysia own a 30-21 edge over Singapore, according to football stats website 11v11.com. The two sides have drawn 21 times in 72 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.
6. 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 destruction of the Lions to knock them out of the 2002 Tiger Cup group stage, which precipitated the sacking of then-national coach Jan Poulsen.