The tour was originally scheduled to include a trip to South Korea but that was cancelled for reasons unknown. A replacement trip to Australia was subsequently mooted but ultimately dismissed due to concerns about excessive travel. Instead, Singapore has replaced South Korea as the third and final leg of the tour. Of the three locations on the schedule, it appears that most Liverpool fans favour a trip to Malaysia. It might be useful therefore to tell Liverpool fans what they can expect from Malaysia and their Malaysian counterparts.
With this in mind, allow me to introduce you to my sister: a scouser born and bred, a passionate Liverpool supporter and currently a resident of Malaysia. Needless to say, my sister is well placed to tell us about Malaysia and our Malaysian brother and sisters.
Liverpool will play the Malaysia national team on July 16 in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. My sister tells me that Liverpool fans can expect a warm welcome. This is not just because the temperature will be around 90F but because Kuala Lumpur is packed with Liverpool supporters. Tell anyone that you are a Liverpool fan and they will smile and mention the names of current and past players, especially those from the 70’s and 80’s. Bahasa Malaysia is the first language of Malaysia but English is an active second language so there should be no problem communicating. If you do happen to meet someone who can’t speak English you can always rely on the language of football to communicate. Once you have mentioned that you’re a Liverpool fan the conversation will take care of itself.
Travelling around Kuala Lumpur is easy. You can use the modern monorail, which is cheap, convenient and punctual. The monorail is busy during the morning and afternoon rush hours, so it’s best to avoid it at these times. Otherwise, you can travel by taxi which is also cheap and convenient but more time consuming due to traffic congestion. The currency used in Malaysia is the ringgit; four Malaysian ringgit is more or less the equivalent to one British pound; 100 sen is equal to one ringgit. The monorail costs about two ringgit from the centre to the end of the line whereas taxi drivers charge two ringgit initially and ten sen thereafter. Be warned however, you should choose a taxi using a metre. If in doubt, just choose a taxi with a Liverpool sticker on the window.
The food in Malaysia is delicious. Visit the Hokka stalls for the cheapest and best local food. Try Nasi Lemak (anchovies, spices and coconut rice), Satay (meat on a stick with peanut sauce), Roti (bread) and chicken and rice (err, chicken and rice). The food will be cooked on the stall in front of you. If you like your food extra spicy ask for Chilli Padi. Alcohol is readily available in the bars and restaurants but you will be hard pressed to find an off licence so look for a supermarket. The cost of alcohol is similar to the UK. The local beer is Tiger, which is probably the cheapest beer available. It was Chang that sponsored Everton so Tiger is safe to drink.
My sister tells me that English football is huge in Malaysia, and indeed throughout the whole of South East Asia. There is support in Malaysia for all of the big Premier League teams. Even our less well known clubs have a fan base; my sister knows a West Brom fan. Interestingly, support for a particular team is not inherited like it is here in the UK. Instead, sons and daughters choose to follow a team based on their own preferences or simply to contrast with another member of the family. One similarity between supporters in Malaysia and here in the UK is that once a team has been chosen, a supporter will remain loyal for life. The supporters themselves are not confined to the archetypal young male but comprise all types of age, social class, gender and race. In Malaysia, football is truly the people’s game.
Given the great interest in English football, the fans are well catered for by the television networks. All of the big games are broadcast live with replays aired immediately afterwards. In fact, my sister manages to watch more football in Malaysia than I do here in the UK. Her only complaint is that there is a slight delay in the live transmission which means that it’s possible to send her a text telling her we’ve scored before she has seen the goal for herself. She hates that.
My sister tells me that Liverpool is one of the best supported teams in the country, if not the best supported. You are just as likely to see someone wearing a Liverpool top on the streets of Kuala Lumpur as you are in Liverpool itself. Moreover, support for Liverpool is not superficial in nature. If you start a conversation in one of the many bars you are likely to find yourself talking to a fellow Red. He or she will be adept at discussing their memories of the club, their favourite matches and their thoughts on potential signings. Indeed, interest in Liverpool is so great that the supporters are well informed and organised. If you visit the Liverpool Supporters Club of Malaysia at www.lscm.com.my you will find details of local gatherings, reports on matches and information about Anfield. In short, Malaysians are as passionate about Liverpool as scousers.
Liverpool’s game against the Malaysia national team will be played at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium. The stadium is located in the National Sports Complex to the south of Kuala Lumpur, it was built in 1998 and it has a capacity of 87,411. The stadium is Malaysia’s equivalent to Wembley, without the crush on the tube. As for the Malaysia national team, commonly known as The Tigers, my sister advises me to watch out for their striker, Mohd Zaquan Adha Abdul Radzak. He is quick and skillful but the fans don’t tend to chant his name. The interest in the game has been overwhelming due to the popularity of Liverpool, the frequent media adverts and the various promotional offers, including a competition held by Standard Chartered offering a chance to meet the players if you open a bank account. Such is the interest in the game, fans are expected to travel from as far afield as Singapore, not to mention Liverpool. With a stadium full of fanatical Malaysians, Liverpool fans from the UK can expect to experience a carnival atmosphere, not to mention a unique rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone.
If you are planning to watch Liverpool play in Kuala Lumpur you can expect to meet some of the most welcoming, dedicated and passionate fans in the world. If you don't believe me, just ask my sister.