Thais too good for S'pore's hockey girls
Despite the loss, Singapore women's hockey coach Viner is happy with progress of young team
(Tikhamporn Sakunpithak 15, Kanyanut Nakpolkrung 43)
They had earmarked the game as their most important in the pool stage of the competition, but Singapore's hockey women failed in their bid to achieve success when they fell 2-0 to an aggressive Thailand in a World League (WL) Round 1 encounter last night at Sengkang Hockey Stadium.
Despite the loss, Singapore coach David Viner remained upbeat.
"We have a lot of young players and today they were starting to feel the pressure against a slicker team," said the Aussie (below).
"That's the first time they've had real, serious pressure like that and they faced up to it, so I'm really proud of them."
Both teams had chances to go up early in the first half via penalty corners, but they fluffed their lines.
Thailand, silver medallists behind Malaysia at last year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games, drew first blood through captain Tikhamporn Sakunpithak, who fired home in the 15th minute.
The hosts suffered a further blow when midfielder Hajaratih Johana took a tumble midway through the first half and was ruled out for the rest of the game through injury.
The Thais ramped up their offence in the second half and, although the Republic tried to keep it tight at the back, their opponents eventually scored through Kanyanut Nakpolkrung, whose strike sealed victory.
Said Viner: "We were just trying to play our game (in the second half) and force them to come at us, because with one midfielder down, you can't push out and be so aggressive.
"So we had to make it more compact, but we were just beaten by a better team today."
Singapore captain Laura Tan, who was part of the team that finished with the bronze at last year's SEA Games on home soil, was pleased with the display, although she admitted the team had to continue working on their fitness.
"We probably got a bit tired in the second half," she said.
"We had our chances, but we didn't convert them and Thailand took their chances."
The 25-year-old was in the team that lost 1-0 to Thailand in the semi-finals at last year's SEA Games and she said: "We play Thailand all the time and it's always a close margin like this. Their players now train full time, so they are definitely stronger and better."
Tan insisted the loss will not faze her team.
She said: "Our team are still young and quite new. For at least one-third of our players, the World League is their first international tournament.
"All of us saw today that we had many chances against Thailand and that in itself is good encouragement, so the team will stay motivated and we'll probably do okay for the rest of the tournament."
Singapore will face Cambodia, Brunei and top seed Kazakhstan in the remaining three days of the competition, and coach Viner is confident his side will deliver.
"Three teams qualify for Round 2 in the women's competition, so if we get four wins, we'll be fine," he said.
"Obviously, we're going to try to get five wins but, if we get four, we'll still make the second round."
Viner, who became coach last October, added: "We're now getting to the end of the tournament, so we'll just keep playing.
"This is just the start of a new programme, so we're not going to do anything radically different because we're all right."