SINGAPORE - Singapore has postponed a highly anticipated football match against arch-rivals Malaysia over concerns that its state-of-the-art new sports complex is not ready to host the fixture.
Officials said there was no new date yet for the game, which was planned for August 8 as the inaugural football match at the soon-to-be-opened, 55,000-seat National Stadium.
"Given the high turnout expected, and to ensure a truly memorable experience and spectacle for every spectator, FAS has concluded that it will need more time to prepare for the event," Football Association of Singapore (FAS) general secretary Winston Lee said in a statement.
"We will announce more details on the rescheduled match at an opportune time," he added.
The stadium, featuring a domed, retractable roof and air-cooled seating, is the centrepiece of the $1 billion Sports Hub precinct which was originally scheduled to launch in April.
In comments to national broadcaster Channel News Asia on Sunday, Lim Teck Yin, the head of government agency Sport Singapore, said large crowds in the new facility could raise operational concerns.
Lim said to avoid potential problems, the Sports Hub first had to host less complex events. Construction work is still continuing in parts of the site and the surrounding area.
The inaugural event in the new stadium will be the rugby World Club 10s from June 21-22, which is not expected to draw capacity crowds.
The first football match at the venue will now be Italian side Juventus against a Singapore XI on August 16.
The large Sports Hub site includes indoor arenas, an aquatics centre and watersports facility. It will host tennis's end-of-season WTA Championships in October.
Tensions are often high at football matches between Southeast Asian neighbours Singapore and Malaysia, and are are usually played before sell-out crowds.
The new facility is in Singapore's riverside Kallang district on the site of the former national stadium, which was known for its famous "Kallang roar".