Bukit Jalil Stadium still on for Tuesday’s Pestabola Merdeka final

KUALA LUMPUR,  Oct 15: The Pestabola Merdeka 2023 final between Malaysia and Tajikistan on Tuesday will go on as planned at the Bukit Jalil National Stadiumm says Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) secretary-general Datuk Noor Azman Rahman.

In a statement today, he said the decision was made after technical checks and evaluations found the pitch was suitable for use.

He said although pitch conditions were not satisfactory when the Harimau Malaya squad beat India 4-2 on Friday (Oct 13), FAM was confident that the Stadium Corporation of Malaysia (PSM) and its technical consultants and contractors would be able to restore it by Tuesday (Oct 17).

“Everyone has agreed that the final will continue to be held at the National Stadium based on the positive development that can be seen in terms of fixing the pitch.

“Harimau Malaya head coach Kim Pan Gon himself has observed the field from a technical point of view and found that it could be used and also felt it would be better for the final to remain at the National Stadium so as not to disturb his team’s focus and preparations,” said Noor Azman.

In the first Pestabola Merdeka match between Harimau Malaya and India on Friday, parts of the pitch at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium with the new Zeon Zoysia-type grass were getting uprooted, and India’s head coach Igor Stimac was unhappy with the situation.

Noor Azman said the decision to maintain the Bukit Jalil National Stadium also took into account several other factors and considerations, including logistical aspects involving the secretariat, staff and teams involved.

In addition, he said there was no other venue in the Klang Valley that could accommodate the expected number of Harimau Malaya supporters after more than 10,000 tickets had been sold to date.

“If the final is moved to the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium in Johor or the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium in Terengganu, it would cause problems and difficulties for the loyal Harimau Malaya supporters who have bought tickets because the majority of them are in the Klang Valley,” he said.

Among those who attended the field inspection and meeting today were FAM president Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin, PSM chairman Datuk Hans Isaac, PSM board member and secretary-general of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Datuk Seri Windsor John, and Pan Gon.

Pestabola Merdeka is the first tournament to be held at the National Stadium, which has been closed since March for the pitch upgrading process.