Fans who flooded into the Tunku Abdul Rahman Stadium for the World Cup Qualifier between Syria and Iran were left reeling from frustration as the match was played on a pitch that was absolutely shambolic to say the least.
The STAR of Paroi’s pitch has a reputation for not being one of the finest in Malaysia, but the situation got a lot worse when heavy rain forced the match to be delayed by 45 minutes. When the match did finally kick-off at 8.45PM, it barely took minutes for fans to realize that the field was unplayable.
Strangely, the match continued as both teams continued to struggle on a pitch that was ridiculously muddy, as per the images uploaded below.
In general, the entire pitch was horrendous. But there were portions of them that contained so much water that it was almost impossible for a player to sprint through that patch of grass, without having the ball stopped by these puddles. Here’s a view of the entire field at half-time.
These are photos taken from the stands. But here’s what the game looked like from the lenses of Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) official photographer.
If you thought the pitch looks bad enough, take a look at the seating conditions that fans were subjected to, despite paying RM45 for each ticket. The water drainage system was visibly not functioning as massive leaks forced fans to watch the game under ridiculous conditions.
“I have been to plenty of other stadiums in Malaysia before, but this is by far the worse I’ve been to. Considering the weather conditions in the past few weeks, I have no idea how AFC agreed to let the game be played on this pitch,” Behrad Taadoli, an Iranian football fan, told us after the game.
“The field terribly affected the game. I mean, you could literally not move the ball around! In fact, it was probably responsible for all the tensed situations during the game. Things would have been so much more different, had the game been played in another stadium.
“Then you have the seating area. We had a decent crowd last night, but there were no seating pads and the ceiling above us was leaking. So we were literally standing under a ‘waterfall’ for five hours,” he added.
Plenty of other Iranian football fans took to social media to vent their frustrations.
It’s difficult to point the finger at one particular party, but it does beg questions about AFC and how they evaluate stadiums, especially when it involves a match of this scale and significance. This wasn’t a regular international friendly match. It was a World Cup qualifier between two nations with fierce rivalry. It’s a huge, huge game of football.
But this should also be a timely reminder for Negeri Sembilan FA and even Football Association of Malaysia. The journey towards becoming a footballing nation is never easy, but we’re unable to cater towards basic aspects of it, such as dependable football pitches, there’s no point to bickering and arguing about the ‘bigger picture’.
While AFC will probably bear the brunt of everything that happened last night, Malaysia’s reputation for being a host and a huge footballing country definitely took a massive hit. And we need to stop doing this to ourselves.
Were you at the game last night? What were your thoughts on the Tunku Abdul Rahman Stadium pitch? Let us know by commenting below!