KUALA LUMPUR: Following the month-long FIFA World Cup, football fans will have more to look forward to as the Barclays Premier League (BPL) kicks off early tomorrow.
For nine long months, it will be midnight frenzies at mamak restaurants, pubs, bars and homes as the most anticipated football league in the world begins.
Thai-Japanese fusion restaurant Sanoook at Sunway Pyramid has put up large TV screens and a projector to cater to football fans.
“Sanoook is usually packed on weekends, but during the football season, it is even more packed as fans come to eat while following the matches,” said restaurant manager MD Kober.
He added that the restaurant had planned a special menu for the 2018-19 BPL season.
Malaysian Chelsea Fan Club president Muhammad Danial Izzat, 29, said the club was anticipating a great season with a new manager at the helm.
“We expect a new style of play for Chelsea with Maurizio Sarri as the manager. We look forward to Chelsea being a much more offensive-minded team than before,” he said.
With 119,070 members in the club, Muhammad Danial said match-viewing sessions were planned ahead whenever the team took on its football rivals.
“The rivalry against teams like Manchester City and Manchester United (MU) will be more intense. We very much fancy our chances against them this time around,” he said of his team, which finished fifth last season.
Liverpool fan Edwin Gnaniah, 58, expects the usual top teams to dominate the season.
“Manchester City, Spurs, Liverpool, MU, Arsenal and Chelsea will dominate, but I’ll root for Liverpool,” said the creative director.
Booking.com outbound executive Wong Ding Chow, 23, an avid Arsenal fan, expects the new season to be more exciting.
“It’s going to be closer because the good teams are getting stronger. Teams like Arsenal and Chelsea now have new managers and their impact will be interesting,” he said.
MU fan Daniel Devan, 24, said the new season would enable him to reconnect with his friends and also meet new fans.
USM communications student Fiqrie Firoz, 22, an Arsenal fan, said he was hoping for a better finish for his team compared to last season’s sixth placing.
“New players such as Lucas Torreira, Sokratis and Matteo Guendouzi have been signed and the most recent preseason match has shown impressive results under new manager Unai Emery,” Fiqrie said.
Astro will kick off the BPL season with the first 4K Ultra HD (UHD) broadcast in Malaysia for the Liverpool vs West Ham (8.30pm) and Arsenal vs Man City (11pm) matches on Sunday at Souled Out in Desa Sri Hartamas.
However, Astro Chief of Sports CK Lee said the 4K UHD broadcast was not available for residential customers yet.
“But fans can catch the league in 4K UHD at selected F&B outlets starting next week,” he said, adding that Astro would air all 380 Premier League matches live on Astro TV and Astro GO.
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