(From left) Wong, Kamalanathan,Acis, Sheila, Kayda and Arsenal Malaysia secretary Alex Chee at the MBO cinema in Citta Mall.
THE tension at the Arsenal Malaysia viewing party was apparent as supporters watched the FA Cup final between Arsenal and Hull City on Saturday night.
Over 300 Gunners turned up for the viewing party at the MBO cinema in Citta Mall, Ara Damansara to watch one of the most important games for both teams in recent years.
Spirits were high as Arsenal supporters gathered in front of the cinema as early as 9pm, chanting their team’s songs.
Arsenal Malaysia president Azman Shah Mohidin said this was the second time that the official Arsenal fan club organised a screening in the cinema for fans.
Tickets were for members only but the club gave out five pairs of tickets on social networking sites and an extra 20 tickets during a chanting match at the cinema on the day of the viewing party.
“Arsenal UK was very excited when they found out we were going to organise the event again. It is common for Malaysians to watch the game at the local mamak restaurants or pubs, so we wanted to organise something different,” he added.
Supporters were confident of Arsenal’s win in the match against underdogs Hull City but were careful not to take the opponents lightly.
Die-hard Arsenal supporter Dr. S Saravanan, 42, from Petaling Jaya said the win was important for Arsenal as a tribute to their fans.
He said it was high time the Gunners clinched the win for long-time fans and supporters.
“Manager Arsene Wenger’s time would have been up if he did not see the team through this victory. Anything can happen in the FA Cup finals as history has shown,” he added.
Present at the party were deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan, singer Datuk Sheila Majid and Star Publications (M) Bhd group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai.
Wong said he was confident Arsenal would bring home the cup citing the night as “The Night” for the team.
Sheila Majid, who turned up with husband Hasridz Murshim Hashim Abdullah - better known as Acis - and daughter Wan Nur Khaleda or Kayda, 22, said she was looking forward to watching the boys play.
Kamalanathan, on the other hand, lauded the club’s efforts to bring supporters under one roof to watch and enjoy the game together.
In the first half of the match, the theatre was filled with cries of surprise from the supporters as Hull City scored the first goal within five minutes of the match.
As soon as Santi Cazorla made the first half free-kick, the team was back in high spirits and continued to stay positive until the end of the nail-biting match.
A supporter, Mohd Shahril Abdul Rashid, who travelled all the way from Perak to join his fellow Gunners, was jubilant after the win.
“I would have travelled all the way to Wembley stadium if I had the chance because this was an important game. Travelling to Kuala Lumpur means nothing as long as I can celebrate our win together,” he said.
Adrian Kan Jia Wei, 19, said he was just happy Arsenal won after the tough match. He said he was worried during the first 20 minutes and then, was a little relaxed as the game progressed.
Meanwhile, Hull City supporters gathered at the Penthouse sports cafe in Subang Avenue to watch the game.
The unofficial local Hull City supporters club spokesman Datuk Michael Tio, who is also the University of Hull Malaysia alumni president, said they were happy with the their team’s performance.
“We thought the game would be a one-way match with Arsenal in control but when Hull City scored the first two goals, the atmosphere was charged,” he added.
Despite their loss, Tio said they were in good spirits because Hull City broke their own records and gave Arsenal a run for their money.
“We knew we were going to lose anyway but the win was more important for Arsenal. If we won, it would have been a dream come true but Arsenal needed the win,” he added.
Both Arsenal Malaysia and Tio provided prizes for their guests as well to amp things up.
A lucky winner, Gopalakrishnan Periasamy, won a jersey signed by all the Arsenal players while Hull City supporter Brandon Puah won a Samsung Galaxy S5 for predicting the game’s score.