The Bukit Jalil National Stadium may not be hosting any Asian-level football matches in the near future if it does not upgrade its pitch, reported Berita Harian.
Nonetheless, the last two Group E matches of the 2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers will still be played at the stadium as scheduled.
This came after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) hinted that it may impose ‘restrictions’ on the stadium following the match between Malaysia and Bahrain in the Asian Cup Qualifiers third-round Group E which saw both teams play on a rain-soaked pitch last Saturday (11 June).
According to Berita Harian, AFC Secretary-General Datuk Seri Windsor Paul John confirmed the matter and admitted his disappointment with the poor condition of the national stadium’s field.
“We are shocked to see the condition of the field and do not want to blame the rain. The owners of the place need to be more prepared and this is not the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) responsibility.”
“Furthermore, we are disappointed with the condition of the field which is still not being fixed as well as the use of unsuitable tools to dispose of (stagnant) water on the field.”
“I think if the condition of the Bukit Jalil National Stadium pitch continues like this, the AFC will not allow for more matches to be played at the stadium,” he said.
Last Saturday (11 June), the Malayan Tigers faced Bahrain to qualify for the Asian Cup for the first time on merit since 1980. However, Malaysia lost the game 1-2 despite taking a one-goal lead.
The game was reported to be played in a water-logged field as there was heavy rain just before the kick-off.
Meanwhile, several stadium staff were seen pushing the water ‘manually’ using shovels and cardboard and this raised question on the stadium’s drainage system.
In response, the Malaysia Stadium Corporation (PSM) said they did not order the use of shovels and cardboard to remove stagnant rainwater from the football field. Its chief executive officer Mohd Faidz Sanusi said the National Stadium has a system that drains water from the field.
He explained that it usually takes 15 minutes to drain out water from the field but if there is heavy and continuous rain, it will take 20 to 25 minutes for the water to flow out.
He also said that when the game started, there was no more stagnant water.