Zainudin: Asean Super League key to filling new stadium

FAS president Zainudin Nordin is banking on the Singapore team that will participate in the ASL to bring in the crowds to fill up the 55,000-seater stadium on a consistent basis
With the new Sports Hub scheduled to open in the coming months, there is an air of excitement in the local sporting industry.

In terms of football, it has been confirmed that Singapore will face causeway rivals Malaysia in the first match to be held at the stadium on August 8 this year. In addition, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) is also planning to bring a top European country, a top European club and a top Asian country to play friendly matches against the national team in time to come.

While that unique line-up of matches will draw in the crowds, there is the inherent problem of filling the stadium on a consistent basis, considering that the local football scene has had trouble filling stadiums in recent times.

This was an issue that FAS president Zainudin readily acknowledged as he spoke to the media during the Sports Hub media preview event.

“We are all cracking our heads everyday, thinking about how to bring back that excitement and the Kallang Roar, but we are confident of a few things,” Zainudin stated.

“We have this spanking new stadium, there is a feeling of new and feeling of excitement to come here. So I would say, at least for that, there is a positive momentum.

“[But] it’s not about a one-off bringing 55,000 [fans], it’s about bringing people regularly back, then you can attract the fans and call it a wave and call it a roar. That’s what we want."

Still, Zainudin remains optimistic and he is banking on the Asean Super League (ASL) to draw in the crowd numbers on a more regular basis once the tournament kicks off next year.

“You would have heard a lot about the Asean Super League, there is this feeling that Singapore is always positioning itself as a city for not only our fellow Singaporeans but the world,” he said.

“We want to bring people to Singapore so that they can see what our country is all about and the ASL is not just targeting Singapore, it’s targeting the region, which has a population of more than 600 million, so we will have a team that will hopefully make the National Stadium its home.

“That team will be playing on a regular basis and if things turn out to be good, there will be momentum, [and we can have] a team that you can call your team playing at the National Stadium.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to have this sustainable effort with a team that we can be proud of.

The ASL will follow a playoff system in a division where relegation will not be a factor. Eight clubs are set to participate in the competition next year and the Asean Football Federation (AFF) is targeting for 16 teams to participate in the league in the long run.

The competition will be played over eight months from February to September, will adhere to Fifa's international calendar and not clash with the AFC Champions League or AFC Cup.