National Stadium’s perfect new pitch gets thumbs-up

All systems go: (From left) Stadium Board chief executive officer Faidz Sanusi, Youth and Sports Ministry secretary-general K. Nagulendran, Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh and Stadium Board chairman Datuk Hans Isaac checking out the Zeon Zoysia pitch at the National Stadium. — Photo by JDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Finally, others will be green with envy of the new pitch at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Today’s opening game of the Merdeka Tournament between Malaysia and India will be the first football game to be played on the field covered with Zeon Zoysia grass, thanks to the Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim.

Costing almost RM5mil, the pitch received the thumbs-up after an inspection was conducted by Tunku Ismail, accompanied by Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh, Malaysian Stadium Board (PSM) chairman Datuk Hans Isaac and Stadium Board chief executive officer Faidz Sanusi.

Hannah said they would get the feedback from head coach Kim Pan-gon after the match against India.

“Tunku looked satisfied. He gave us some suggestions on the maintenance. Today, we will get feedback from Pan-gon and his boys on how the pitch is,” said Hannah at a press conference yesterday.

“To me, it looks beautiful and clean but footballers will be able to give detailed comments on what needs to be improved.

“Our Harimau Malaya boys will now have a new field to play on in their home.”

Hannah said the Stadium Board have spent about RM4.8mil for the project, which includes building and maintaining the field for a year, purchase of maintenance equipment, a new piping system and installation of electric cables while the pitch was sponsored by Tunku Ismail.

Now that the national team have a home, Hannah hopes it will not be ruined as the facility will be co-shared with others.

“During concerts, operators would be told on how long they can conduct their events.

“The hours would be monitored because we do not want the grass to be affected,” she said.

“Stadium Board will brief the contractors on how to look after the facilities in the stadium.

The Stadium Board have also set up a nursery in Bukit Jalil to provide a continuous supply of grass patches for the National Stadium.

This will speed up the repair process for the pitch in the future.

It was in March last year that Tunku Ismail agreed to sponsor the cost of switching from Cow Grass to Zeon Zoysia, as he wanted Malaysian football to meet the international standards as far as the pitch was concerned.

The other games set to play in Bukit Jalil are the Malaysia Cup final on Dec 9 and the 2026 World Cup qualifiers match against Kyrgyzstan on Nov 16.

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