Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sing Lions lose "home game" to Robbie Williams

The Singapore Sports Council has instructed the Football Association of Singapore to give up their booking of the National Stadium, booked in January, so that visiting British music superstar Robbie Williams can hold a concert there on 18 November. The Singapore Lions expected to play their important Asian Cup qualifier against Palestine at the 60,000-seater National Stadium on 15 November but will now be switched to the 6,000-seat Jalan Besar Stadium.

Football officials expressed their disappointment. "I am very disappointed with the decision, especially since the FAS had made a booking for the venue well in advance," Singapore’s technical director P N Sivaji told Jose Raymond of Today. "It does not help the development of Singapore football. It also deprives the fans from coming out to cheer Singapore on especially in a tight group that could go all the way to the wire." National coach Radojko Avramovic added: "If it goes right to the end, the boys should play in a fantastic atmosphere with as many fans behind them as possible."

Depending on the results of Singapore’s double bill against China in August and September and an away tie against Iraq on 11 October, "the match against Palestine could well be the Lions’ decider. They are currently in second spot in Group E behind China, but all four teams in the group have the same number of points, three after two games," Raymond commented. The FAS reportedly tried to have the date of the fixture changed, but the Asian Football Confederation turned down the request.

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