Singapore set to play Malaysia on Sep 6 at new National Stadium
New Malaysia coach Dollah Salleh will lead Tigers against Singapore
The highly-anticipated Causeway Derby, which was initially pencilled in as the first piece of football action at the spanking new National Stadium, now looks set to be held on Sept 6.
The New Paper understands that the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) has proposed the date for the match between the two arch-rivals at the 55,000-capacity arena, which is the centrepiece of the $1.33 billion Singapore Sports Hub.
The match was originally supposed to be held on Aug 8, the eve of National Day, but it was postponed last month with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) citing the need for more time to prepare for the high turnout expected.
Speaking to TNP yesterday, FAM general secretary Hamidin Amin said: "We have proposed the date, Sept 6, to (FAS), and are waiting for confirmation.
"As I said after the first game's postponement, we are keen to have a Singapore-Malaysia game at the new National Stadium.
"Hopefully, FAS give the green light and the turnout (for the match) will be to everyone's expectations."
Sept 6, which falls on a Saturday, is one of two days which world football's governing body, Fifa, has blocked out as international dates that month.
The first football match at the new stadium will be on Aug 16, when a Singapore Selection side take on Italian giants and reigning Serie A champions Juventus.
In a statement to TNP, FAS director of marketing and communications Gerard Wong said: "FAS is working closely with FAM on finalising the date of the much-anticipated match between our national teams.
"We are looking at a few dates, including in September. We aim to announce the details soon."
Singapore fans will see a familiar face leading out the Malaysian Tigers when they do face the Lions here.
Former Malaysia star striker, Dollah Salleh, has been appointed as the new coach of the national team for a period of two years.
Speaking to TNP yesterday, Dollah confirmed his appointment.
He said: "First, I'll have to submit my list of (assistant) coaches to the (FAM) exco for approval. Then we will sit and discuss the plans for preparation.
"It's always good to have Singapore as one of our warm-up games.
"They are, after all, the (reigning) Suzuki Cup champions, so it will be a good gauge of our standing.
"I don't think Singapore have changed too much under their new coach (Bernd Stange), but some of the younger players have matured with the LionsXII in the MSL."
Dollah, 50, who won the Malaysia Cup with Pahang last season and recently led PDRM to the Malaysian Premier League title - the second-tier club competition, behind the Malaysian Super League (MSL) - fills the position which had been vacant since Dec 31, when previous coach K Rajagobal's contract was not renewed.
Malaysia's Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee had been the interim national coach for the past six months.
One of Dollah's first roles will be to prepare Malaysia for the November's AFF Suzuki Cup, which will be co-hosted by Singapore and Vietnam.
With regard to player selection, Dollah admitted he was concerned over a number of internationals who have seen limited playing time in the MSL this season.
With new rules allowing clubs to sign four foreign players, star strikers Norshahrul Idlan Talaha and Safee Sali, and veteran midfielder Safiq Rahim, in particular, have spent most of the season on the bench for their club Johor Darul Ta'zim - who were recently crowned league champions.
Kelantan have also used playmaker Badhri Radzi mostly as a substitute.
"It's not easy, because several key players have been out of action for so much of the year," Dollah said.
"But, that also encourages me to try new, younger players... There's still a long way to go, and I have the Malaysia Cup to look at before the Singapore game."