National Stadium pitch in better condition
The National Stadium pitch will be ready for the Singapore's Suzuki Cup opener against Thailand tomorrow, but expect wear and tear by the time the Lions take on Causeway rivals Malaysia next Saturday in their final Group B encounter.
The Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) independent field expert, Hiroi Koichi, who has regularly inspected the pitch (below) after being engaged as an adviser, said yesterday: "The Sports Hub has put in a lot of work into the field and it will look good for the game.
"The pitch is safe to play but do expect deterioration of the surface after every match. This is normal given the maturity of the pitch."
The state of the field became a hot topic in August when Juventus beat a Singapore Selection side 5-0 in a match played on a surface with huge swathes of sandy patches.
When Brazil beat Japan 4-0 here last month, the FAS declared the hybrid surface comprising natural grass woven with synthetic fibres "far short of the expected international playing standards".
To stimulate the growth of the rye and blue grass seeds, $1.5 million worth of special lighting equipment was bought. The lights, hovering slightly over a metre above ground, are kept on through the night to act like sunlight.
Substantial costs were incurred as events were rescheduled to ensure the pitch was free to grow.
SportsHub Pte Ltd's chief operating officer Oon Jin Teik said yesterday: "On behalf of the Singapore Sports Hub, we are delighted to welcome players, coaches and fans from across the region to come and experience our first AFF Suzuki Cup at the new National Stadium come Sunday when Singapore face Thailand.
"We hope that the stadium will be filled with a sea of red shirts cheering on our Lions.
"Since the Japan versus Brazil match, we have been working hard to optimise our National Stadium pitch and it has improved ahead of the Singapore versus Thailand game.
"Over the six days of intense use, we do foresee a loss in turf coverage after each match, but the pitch will be safe and playable.
"In parallel, we are also evaluating several longer term pitch solutions that we will explore after the tournament.
"We are looking forward to an exciting tournament and the long awaited return of the Kallang Roar."
Gerard Wong, FAS director of marketing and communications, added: "We are appreciative of the efforts that the Sports Hub has been putting to improve the pitch.
"Our players are raring to go and ready to do well for our fans and for Singapore. To our fans, we hope to see you packing the National Stadium. Your presence means a lot to the Lions. Let's all turn up in full force to be their 12th man."