Singapore Football

Causeway Derby set to be a hit

It is a delicious rivalry that has been spiced up through the years by some fierce and memorable contests.

On the final day of Group B competition in the AFF Suzuki Cup tomorrow, the Causeway Derby finally rolls into town when arch-rivals Singapore and Malaysia go toe to toe at the National Stadium.

Already, Singapore fans are salivating at the prospect of a first clash against the Tigers at their new 55,000-capacity football arena.

Joshua Tan, a 34-year-old banker who will be at the game, said yesterday: " It's going to be amazing. I am looking forward to the atmosphere on Saturday.

"Causeway derbies always throw up a special kind of passion among fans, and I can't wait to see the new stadium properly christened with a special match like this."

In a testament to the unique nature of games featuring the two nations, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) said that 65 per cent of tickets have been sold as of yesterday.

That figure already beats the 32,148 who attended Singapore's opener against Thailand, which the Lions lost 2-1.

Just 24,000 turned up for Singapore's 4-2 victory over Myanmar on Wednesday.

Yesterday alone, 4,000 tickets were snapped up by fans and according to the FAS, that number is 3.5 times more than what they usually sell on an average day.

Defending champions Singapore are favourites to join Thailand in the semi-finals as they almost certainly only need a draw tomorrow to book their spot in the last four.

Myanmar need to beat Thailand by four goals and hope the other game is a draw, to advance.

Fans whom The New Paper spoke to were unequivocal in their support for the Lions.

"The result against Myanmar has no bearing on my decision to attend the Malaysia game at all," said 26-year-old Syed Faris, of Singapore fan group SingaMania.

"I don't support a team only when it's winning.

"A real fan will support their team under any circumstances. Look at those lower-division English clubs like Millwall and Derby County. They have great support.

"We are talking about Singapore here. It's about national pride."

Ali Aqbar, 20, feels the same way.

He also wants Singapore fans to be loud and proud on matchday.

He said: "Against Myanmar, the small pocket of away fans were even louder than us, and I hope that will change against Malaysia.

"I hope all of us fans will dance and sing together, and give the Lions the resounding support they need."

AFF Suzuki Cup