HANOI: For two die-hard Malaysian fans, they sold their prized ‘Ultras Malaya’ memorabilia to fund their trip to Hanoi to watch the return leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup final between Malaysia and Vietnam.
Sallehuddin Mohd Rabani, 35, said he saved some money for the trip by selling his shoes and mufflers used during match days in Malaysia.
“Those memorabilia are really good memories to me. Selling them was painful but I badly wanted to watch Malaysia play in the final in Hanoi,” he said, adding that Hanoi was his second away trip for the AFF Suzuki Cup.
In the first leg final on Tuesday, Malaysia came from behind to draw 2-2 with Vietnam in the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Having followed Ultras Malaya since 2010, the technician from Shah Alam said the memorabilia, especially the mufflers cost RM200 because they were limited editions.
“Four years ago, I could not go to Thailand to watch the first leg final in Rajamangala. This year, I told myself I did not want to miss the final match,” he said.
Auditor Shahrul Izuan Abdul Kahar, 30, said Ultras Malaya have brought a new culture to Malaysian football and has brought the term ‘12th man’ to a whole new level.
“I used to watch the game like a normal fan but I wanted to be part of Ultras when I saw how spirited they were. Now, I’m with them for every game day in Malaysia. I have been with them since 2012.
“With the Ultras, the atmosphere is different. When we were trailing 0-2 to Vietnam in the first leg, we continued to cheer them on
“They felt our presence and fought back to draw against Vietnam. We can make the players play better because we motivate them instead of insulting them.”
Shahrul too had to sell his memorabilia because he could not save from his salary due to other commitments.
“I had to make sacrifice to here in Hanoi. To me, as long as I get to see Malaysia, I’m happy. Win or lose, I don’t care. We’re here just to support.
Sallehuddin and Shahrul were hundreds of hardcore Malaysian football fans who boarded a special charter flight to Hanoi by AirAsia yesterday.
In the flight piloted by captain Dominic Henry Chin and captain Ariffin Ismail, fans were seen chanting and taking selfies with the pilots and cabin crews.
During the flight also, one of the cabin crews, who used to be part of Ultras, joined the group and chanted songs like ‘Harimau Sejati’ and ‘LaLaLaLa’.”
AirAsia arranged two return flights for the fans.
The airline held a special send-off ceremony at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA 2) yesterday. The other flight scheduled today is also fully booked. In total, 345 seats were sold for both flights.