Malaysia U22 v Brunei DS, Saturday 8th October 2016, 5.15pm

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Seremban is just up the road from where we live and so when I read that the Malaysian U22 team had a fixture there we thought we’d go along.

The Tuanku Abdul Rahman stadium in the Paroi area of town is the home ground of second-tier team Negeri Sembilan. It was quite busy outside with people making use of the cafes and with a few stalls selling mainly football shirts.

As tends to be our habit at these games we picked up a shirt for our grandson. It was a yellow and red Selengor kit that was more Melchester Rovers than Watford. As the season only had one more week to go the seller knocked a few ringgits off what was already a bargain price.

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We couldn’t see a ticket office and so approached the nearest entrance to ask for directions. It turned out that we didn’t need tickets as admission was free. Very nice.

Jen had her bag searched, although I’m not sure what they were looking for. I had a bottle of coke sticking out of a side pocket of my shorts which was ignored. Perhaps they were just curious to see what she was carrying around.

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Our entrance led us into the lower part of a two-tier uncovered stand. It worked out quite well though as we were able to sit on the last row of terracing and take advantage of the shade created by the overhang.

As tends to be the way over here, our section was part of a bowl-type arrangement, with a running track between us and the pitch. There was a small covered stand opposite that had shade and seats. Maybe we should have walked a bit further around.

Malaysia were in yellow and black stripes with Brunei in white with a nifty single three-coloured stripe. It wasn’t clear whether this was a real U22 game or whether it was actually the full Brunei team warming up for the upcoming Suzuki  Cup qualifiers by taking on a team of youngsters.

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There were lots of vendors selling to the sparse crowd with sunflower seeds being a popular option.  Most of the spectators were in family groups and with everyone trying to squeeze into the back couple of rows that were providing the shade, the sellers pretty much had a captive market to aim at.

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The standard on the pitch was poor in both technical ability and in decision-making. Malaysia took the lead after ten minutes and whilst there were sufficient defensive mistakes for there to have been any number of further goals, poor finishing meant that there was just the one in the first half.

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At half time we came out of the ground and wandered around to the covered stand on the other side of the ground. It was also free to get in and we took a seat to the left of the fence of VIP section in the middle.

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As the half drew on, the sun dropped behind our stand. The fading light allowed the fans opposite to gradually abandon their seats beneath the overhang and spread out a little more.

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Towards the end the crowd was announced as being 315. I’m not sure how they worked it out and as we’d gone in twice I wondered if we’d been counted on both occasions. Maybe somebody just looked around the ground and did a head-count. Or perhaps the announcer just made it up. My money is on that last option.

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There were no more goals and the Malaysian youngsters hung on for their one-nil win.

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