Japan-Brazil match ticket sales hit 38,000 mark
As of yesterday, ticket sales for the highly-anticipated international friendly between Brazil and Japan at the National Stadium on Oct 14 reached the 38,000 mark.
Malcolm Thorpe, vice-president of sports development and events at World Sport Group (WSG), is confident that all 51,000 tickets for the glamour game will be sold out.
He also guarantees that the National Stadium pitch, which came under heavy criticism for its sandy condition during the Singapore Selection versus Juventus match last month - the first football match to be played at the venue - will be in top shape.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Thorpe said a team is working around the clock to ensure that the playing surface will be ready to stage the battle between Asia's No. 1 side and Brazil, the record five-time world champions who are regarded as the greatest football nation.
The majority of the 27,388 fans who watched Singapore Selection take on Italian giants Juventus at the 55,000-capacity National Stadium on Aug 16 were in awe of the new facility, which is the centrepiece of the Singapore Sports Hub at Kallang.
But there were plenty of complaints over the state of the sandy pitch.
Events promoters WSG - part of the Sports Hub consortium - later explained that the Desso Grassmaster (hybrid) pitch, seen in top stadiums like Real Madrid's Bernabeu and Manchester United's Old Trafford, needed time to mature.
When TNP visited the venue yesterday, the pitch looked in much better condition, with only a few brown patches in the centre.
Said Thorpe: "There was a lot of criticism of the pitch after the Juventus game, but I think, aesthetics aside, the pitch played out well.
"The nature of the Desso pitch is that it provides a stable, even playing surface.
"The pitch is growing in, and with seven weeks (from the Juventus game) for it to mature, it should be ready.
"We have also acted on the criticism, which is why we offered a deal for this (Brazil-Japan) game."
Tickets for the Brazil-Japan clash range between $40 and $180, and fans who bought tickets for the game that featured Serie A giants Juventus received a $20 discount on any category of ticket ($10 for children), if they made purchase before Sept 17.
Japan, the reigning Asian champions, will be the "home" side for the match, which is part of the Gillette Brazil World Tour and kicks off at 6.45pm on the Tuesday.
Before heading to Singapore, the Blue Samurai will host Jamaica on Oct 10, while the Selecao will face deadly rivals Argentina in Beijing on Oct 11.
As a result of the teams' tight schedule, Thorpe explained that fringe events surrounding the match are out of WSG's hands.
"We are still waiting for the respective itineraries (from the two football associations). Both teams are aware of the huge following they have in Singapore," he said.
"But their focus will be on the match, because the game is serious business for them."
The National Stadium will host the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup which kicks off on Nov 22. The Republic are co-hosts with Indonesia - and plans are in place for the Lions, the defending champions, to play at least one warm-up game at their new den before the tournament.
Thorpe said the arrangement of matches for the national team rest with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), who have been in constant touch with WSG about the use of the venue.
A source close to FAS revealed yesterday that, in addition to the three away friendlies to Hong Kong (Oct 10), Macau (Oct 14) and Bahrain (Nov 7) announced recently, the federation is in the process of arranging one home fixture against an Asian team between Nov 10 and 19.
Singapore, record four-time winners of the Suzuki Cup, are aiming to defend their crown on home soil and will count on a revival of the Kallang Roar to help their cause.
Victory will set the stage for a raucous 2015, when the country celebrates its 50th year of independence.
Thorpe yesterday revealed that there will be a surprise in store for fans of the Lions.
To commemorate the occasion, the national side will go up against a top international or club side, although he refused to reveal any names as negotiations are ongoing.
TNP reported last week that English Premier League side Chelsea have had preliminary discussions to play here next July, as part of their pre-season programme.
Thorpe also declined to reveal any details, but said that top-quality events are always in the running to be staged at the Sports Hub.
He said: "There isn't a specific event (or sport) we focus on.
"The Sports Hub is about creating an ongoing series of events across different sports, which are fitting for this world-class venue.
"That's what we are working towards."
- Cat 1: 10,000 seats — $180
- Cat 2: 10,000 seats — $110
- Cat 3: 16,000 seats — $70
- Cat 4: 16,000 seats — $40
For patrons under 16 years of age, tickets are priced between $25 and $45.
Family Packs (two adults and two children): Cat 3 ($160), Cat 4 ($100)