Thailand floorball coach: Pressure's on Singapore
Thailand women’s floorball coach Kenneth Koh has turned up the heat on Singapore ahead of both sides' showdown in the Asia-Oceania Floorball Cup final at Our Tampines Hub on Saturday (June 23).
Koh insisted that the pressure will be on the hosts, saying: “This is the home ground for the Singapore players and, in all honesty, the pressure is on the home team.
“If anything, we just need to stay composed and understand that as long as we stick to the game plan, the ball is in our control, so to speak.”
Koh, a 35-year-old Singaporean who has coached the Thailand team for two years, was speaking after his side overcame Japan 9-4 to secure their place in Saturday's final. In the other semi-final on Friday, Singapore cruised to a 7-1 victory over Malaysia.
Matches between Singapore and Thailand have been close affairs. This is the second time in three years that both sides are meeting in a final, with the Republic edging out the Thais 4-3 on penalties in the 2015 SEA Games final at ITE College Central. The score after extra-time was 3-3.
At last year's Women's World Championship in Slovakia, Singapore lost 6-5 to the Thais in the semi-finals of the placement round for 13th to 16th spots.
They gained some measure of revenge by pipping the Thais 2-1 in their final match of the group stage on Wednesday, but Koh insisted that Saturday's final will be a different affair.
He said: "The game was in the group stages and both teams were still feeling each other out. For tomorrow, the atmosphere and the playing environment will be different, and we'll take it one period at a time."
When told about Koh's comments, Singapore assistant coach Timo Suonpaa said he just wants his players to enjoy the game.
Said the Finn: “I don't see that there are any favourites for tomorrow, and we're not so worried about the pressure. There are more important things in life to worry about than floorball.
ENJOY THE GAME
“We just want to enjoy the game and, for the girls, it may be their only opportunity to play a final on home ground.”
Singapore captain Amanda Yeap added: “Thailand will come hard, but on our side, we will have to play even better than the group stages, play quick passes and stay focused.”
Singapore started brightly in yesterday’s semi-final against Malaysia, with Siti Nurhaliza opening the scoring in the eighth minute of the first period with a well-taken goal after some deft stickwork.
The hosts continued to press their advantage, and the pressure paid off when Jowie Tan and Tiffany Ong bagged one each make it 3-0 before the break.
The second period continued in similar fashion, but Singapore handed Malaysia a lifeline seven minutes in after an incorrect hit by Debbie Poh led to a penalty which was converted by Goh Yen Yen.
The goal breathed new life into the visitors with Singapore looking nervy at times, but they were unable to find a crucial second goal during the period.
Singapore finally made their dominance count with four goals in the first six minutes of the third period to secure their place in the final.
On the team’s performance, Suonpaa said: ”The first period was good and we started relaxed, but the second not so good because I think the players are still young and they got a little stressed, especially after conceding that penalty.
“Ultimately, it is only human that sometimes we are nervous under pressure, but overall it is a good result.”
Suonpaa believes the final will an enthralling contest, and hopes fans will turn up and fill the indoor arena to make it an unforgettable night.
He said: "For the previous game against Thailand, we were a little under pressure and we had to defend. But for the final, it will be a 50-50 game. It will be a game that is worthy of a final and I hope people will come and watch to create a good atmosphere."