Stadium Merdeka to be home again for Kuala Lumpur football team

PETALING JAYA: Kuala Lumpur football will return to Stadium Merdeka on Friday for the first time in 17 years.

The historic landmark will host the Kuala Lumpur football team’s opening Premier League match of the season against Sabah.

The last international match played at the stadium – which was opened on Aug 21, 1957 for the declaration of Independence 10 days later – saw the Malaysian team drawing 1-1 with Cambodia in a friendly on Oct 2001.

The City boys will now make a return to the venue after 17 years. They will be playing their home matches there for two years before heading back to the KLFA Stadium, which is now under renovation, in Cheras.

Kuala Lumpur FA (KLFA) secretary general Ramlan Askolani acknowledged that the match will bring fond memories.

“The stadium is full of nostalgia. I played there for the KL team and we won three consecutive Malaysia Cup titles (1987-1989),” said Ramlan, who scored a goal in the 3-0 win over Kedah in the 1988 final.

“The stadium exudes a special aura because of its steep history ... we hope it will help lift the spirits of the players as we seek to reach our target of a top-two finish in the league and win promotion to the Super League.”

The KL team have been going through tough times since the high of three Cup victories.

They were even relegated to the FAM Cup in 2013 – the first time in the team’s history.

They hope to start their journey back to the top flight when they take on Sabah, who will be boosted by former Senegal World Cupper El Hadji Diouf, who made 55 appearances for English Premier League outfit Liverpool from 2002-2004.