Singapore hockey team get another shot at Asiad spot
Hockey men get another chance to try and earn an Asian Games spot
They drew up a plan, buckled down, gave it a go, but stumbled.
Singapore men's hockey team were beaten twice by Oman in what was supposed to be their final attempt to convince the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) selectors to give them the green light for the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, from Sept 19 to Oct 4.
But, even in defeat, they received an opportunity to fight another day.
Solomon Casoojee's charges travelled to Muscat for two games on May 17 and 18, and were beaten twice by a side ranked sixth in Asia, going down 2-1 in both matches.
The Omani hockey team will do battle at the Asian Games, and have invited the Republic to return to Muscat in July (10 to 20) as sparring partners for their own preparations for the tournament.
In doing so, they present Casoojee and his team another chance to convince the SNOC to give them a ticket for the Asiad.
"I thought we dominated periods of both of the games, and in the first match, held the lead for most of the game. But the fact of the matter is that we lost both games, and will have to wait and see what the SNOC decides," Casoojee told The New Paper yesterday.
"But the Oman side clearly thought the games were close affairs and that we'd give them good matches, and have invited us to go back there as they prepare for the Asian Games.
"We'll play between four and six matches against them and we will use every opportunity to use every result we can as justification for us going to the Games."
The SNOC has an Aug 1 deadline for appeal submissions.
Right now, 223 athletes from 19 sports will fly the Singapore flag at the Asian Games, with the number likely to increase before the SNOC submits its final list to the South Korean organisers on Aug 15.
While Oman will foot the bill for accommodation, meals and transport in Muscat, the airfare for the team will be borne by Singapore.
The men's Incheon quest started at March's Asian Games hockey qualifiers in Bangladesh, where they technically qualified by finishing fourth.
But they did not pass muster with the SNOC, who required national teams to show that they were competitive against opponents ranked sixth in Asia.
South African coach Casoojee then sat with his team, implemented stricter targets and adopted a number of rules in a bid to get in tip-top shape before the double-header against Oman.
The team were poised to dig into their own pockets to foot the bill for the trip, before former national player Paul Lim stepped forward with a $20,000 donation to fund the trip to Oman.
The hockey men are on a break this week as several players are sitting for examinations, but will resume training on Monday.
The Omanis are opening their doors to the Singapore team again in November (10 to 20) as both nations prepare for the 4th Men's Junior Asian Hockey Federation Cup (Nov 29 to Dec 7) in Bangladesh.
"We are appreciative of what Oman are doing, they are effectively covering 90 per cent of the cost of these training tours. Going anywhere else in the region will end up being more expensive," said Casoojee.
But the fact of the matter is that we lost both games, and will have to wait and see what the SNOC decides.
— Singapore national hockey coach Solomon Casoojee on his team’s fate