Singapore edge out Indonesia to water polo gold
Hosts bag final gold of the Games as Indonesia miss out on huge upset
They gave themselves a chance to post arguably the biggest upset of the 18th Asean University Games, but agonisingly for the Indonesian water polo men's team, they came up short.
In a thrilling final against Singapore at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, the Indonesians went almost toe to toe with the hosts, but just could not bridge the gap in the end and had to settle for second spot.
"The boys gave of their best, Singapore were quite lucky to get the win over us," said Baldwin Karmen, 31, head coach of Indonesia, after the final ended 10-9 in favour of the hosts.
"Most of our shots hit the goal posts and, if luck were on our side, we would have been able to score more.
"The Singaporean team were well prepared, but our team lacked endurance after fasting during the Ramadan month."
Singapore's dominance in the sport in the region is well documented.
The senior men have ruled the biennial South-east Asia Games since 1965 - it was the South-east Asian Peninsular Games until 1977 - and, last year, both the men and women won gold on home soil.
The hosts were expected to win the water polo gold on the first occasion the sport featured at the University Games, after beating Indonesia 8-6 in a preliminary-round encounter.
They led 4-3 after the first quarter, but the Indonesian men picked up the pace and went on the attack, and the hosts were grateful to go into the break with the score tied at 6-6 after Karmen's men missed a hatful of chances.
The Singapore team came out after half-time and were more composed in defence, but there was still little to choose between the two nations with the score locked at 8-8 after the third quarter.
Chiam Kun Yang's goal three minutes from time in the final quarter was the decisive blow as the hosts extended their lead to 10-8 and, although a persistent Indonesia side saw Zaenal Arifin narrow the deficit with 20 seconds left on the clock, it proved to be too little, too late.
"The boys did well in the pressure situation and, after all, a win is a win," said Paul Tan, 32, the Singapore assistant coach.
"We were nervous at the start and that affected our defence; we let in unnecessary goals in the first half.
"But our attacks and conversion of chances improved, and were much better compared to when we faced them the last time round."