KUALA LUMPUR – The Malaysia Cup final has always gone down in history as the biggest day in Malaysian football.
From concerts to mini carnivals, the venue often bore witness to avid fanfare and spectacular displays of sportsmanship.
Entering its centennial celebration this year, fans may expect that the vibes will be less electrifying than it was before due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Malaysian Football League (MFL) Chief Executive Officer Stuart Ramalingam (picture) admitted that they would “love to paint the town red” leading up to the 100th final, but eventually had to forgo their intention to avoid risking public safety and health.
“As the organiser, we have to be respectful to the standard operating procedures (SOP) imposed by the government on sporting events. If we can avoid it, let’s do so, this is not a time to stretch regulations and test the system,” he said when met recently.
Nevertheless, Stuart said that MFL is working around the clock to ensure that the final, slated to be held at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Nov 30, would be a memorable one – making fans satisfied with the atmosphere.
Not only having 20,000 supporters inside the stadium, Stuart said fans can now look forward to enjoy meals at their seats.
Based on feedback from the Youth and Sports Ministry (KBS), Stuart informed that MFL have been tremendously supportive, especially on the appeal for fans to eat inside the stadium.
Ergo, he believed that KBS minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu would surely speak to the Health Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin on the appeals made by MFL, and hoped a good news await fans fairly soon.
“We also hope to have a space at the venue for fans to have a glimpse of both the old and new Malaysia Cup trophy being displayed side by side. Hopefully, this is the final we have been waiting for, because at the end of the day, fans want to enjoy the final,” he added.
Based on the SOP issued by the National Security Council, Health Ministry and KBS, the number of supporters at stadiums will is based on the phase of the National Recovery Plan (NRP) in the respective states.
Bukit Jalil National Stadium, which is situated in the Klang Valley, is currently under Phase Four, the SOP which allows 50 per cent or 20,000 fans (whichever is less) of the venue capacity will be used during the competition day.
The strict SOP disallow eating and drinking in stadiums, which led to the dissatisfaction among fans in the stadiums lately.
Touching on the rationale of having the final on a Tuesday (Nov 30), Stuart said it was never a choice to do it on a weekday, but remained optimistic it will still draw fans to the stadium to support their team in the final.
Stuart informed that MFL knew they had to adjust the schedule the moment Harimau Malaya went to Jordan for Tier 1 international friendlies, last month, which saw the national players having to undergo 14 days of quarantine before they rejoined their respective teams for Malaysia Cup action, which resumed Oct 29.
As the knockout stages will demand a lot of intensity, physically and mentally from all players, he explained that MFL must ensure that all teams have three full days of rest in between two matches within five days, in a bid to maintain quality football and most importantly, to avoid injuries.
“We cannot do it in December, as we may have a team without players due to contractual issues, so we have to play this month which means Nov 30 is the best date that we have,” he said.