Malang tragedy: National U-16 squad to play next matches in empty stadium in Bogor

KUALA LUMPUR – The national Under-16 (U-16) squad will play their remaining three matches of Group B of the 2023 U-17 Asian Cup Qualifiers in Bogor, Indonesia at an ‘empty’ stadium, following the tragedy that happened at Kanjuruhan Stadium, Malang, on Saturday.

This is because the All Indonesia Football Association (PSSI) have announced that all the remaining matches in Group B, made up of Malaysia, the home team, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Palestine and Guam at the Pakansari Stadium in Cibinong will be played without spectators.

The decision was taken as a mark of respect to the people affected by the bloody tragedy that left more than 150 people dead following riots and a stampede after the East Java derby between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya at Kanjuruhan Stadium, Malang, East Java, on Saturday.

Arema FC supporters rioted after the home team lost 2-3 to the visitors forcing police to fire tear gas to control the situation. A stampede resulted when supporters rushed to an exit gate resulting in a crush that left many dead. There were also riots outside the stadium. 

“With this, the 2023 U-17 Asian Cup Qualifiers will officially be held without spectators. A refund system will be activated for those who have already bought tickets,” PSSI said in a post on its official Facebook today..

The national U-16 squad coached by Osmera Omaro started brilliantly in Bogor by defeating Palestine 4-0 in their opening match on Saturday and are scheduled to meet Guam (Oct 5) followed by the UAE (Oct 7) and Indonesia on Oct 9.

Only the 10 group champions and the five best runners-up will qualify for the 2023 U-17 Asian Cup. – Bernama / pic AFP