PETALING JAYA: Despite patches of grass on Bukit Jalil National Stadium’s new football pitch getting dislodged, the Malaysia Stadiums Board has expressed confidence that the pitch will be ready for the World Cup qualifiers next month.
The board admitted that the issue should not have occurred since it had employed the use of “grow lights” on parts of the pitch that have less exposure to the sun.
“However, it is not the same as natural sunlight. Nonetheless, the board is confident that the issue can be overcome and that the patches will fully recover in time for the World Cup qualifiers,” it said.
The board did not say if the Malaysian football team will be using the stadium when it faces Tajikistan in the final of the Merdeka Tournament 2023 on Tuesday.
It said it usually takes a year for the grass of a new football pitch to get settled in while the board only had eight months with the national stadium.
The board said rainy weather last week also did not help. However, it said it is satisfied with the new pitch and its drainage system.
“The board will make full use of the next one month to ensure the pitch is ready for the World Cup qualifiers.”
Separately, youth and sports minister Hannah Yeoh said she will wait for the Football Association of Malaysia’s (FAM) technical report on the issue, adding that discussions on the matter were ongoing.
She said Tunku Mahkota of Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim had expressed his concerns about the field’s readiness to host matches at this time.
“Wait for FAM. The stadium board only prepares the stadium, but whether to play there or not (this Tuesday) depends on Harimau Malaya and FAM.”
She said they were also dependent on the advice of technical experts, who were involved in installing the same Zeon Zoysia pitch for the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium in Johor.
Earlier this morning, Tunku Ismail said he had already informed everyone at the officiating ceremony of the national stadium’s new pitch that it would need more time to settle in.
However, he said the national team wanted to use the new pitch as soon as possible.
The Bukit Jalil National Stadium had undergone renovations, including the planting of Zeon Zoysia grass to replace the cow grass pitch in April.