Bittersweet day for Singapore's floorballers
Women's team pip Thais 3-2, while men's side lose on penalties
It was a bittersweet day for Singapore floorball after the men's team failed to match the women's team in bringing home the SEA Games gold.
Both sides faced arch-rivals Thailand in the finals, and the women's side emerged with a 3-2 win, while the men's team battled for nearly three hours before succumbing to a 10-9 (2-1 on penalties) defeat.
The women's team had beaten Thailand 4-1 in the group stage and went into yesterday's title decider at the UP CHK Gym in Manila confident.
Coach Louise Khng's charges opened the scoring in the seventh minute of the first period when Natalia Wee pounced on the rebound after Ong Swee Ling's shot was saved by Thailand goalkeeper Pornsawan Soramak.
Thailand hit back almost immediately when Thanaporn Tongkham unleashed a grounder right across the outstretched feet of Singapore custodian Fariza Begum and into the bottom-right corner.
The game swayed in Thailand's favour early in the second period when Thanaporn pounced on a pass from Tan Hui Zhi and, in a quick breakaway, fed Natthakarn Aunjai who made no mistake.
Singapore came back strongly in the third period and it took them only two minutes to restore parity.
• Yong Yi Xiang (wushu, changquan)
• Chloe Ing (figure-skating)
• Women’s floorball team
• Rachel Teo, Jerome Teo (dancesport, mixed foxtrot)
• Women’s water polo team
• Men’s floorball team
• Jeremy Sim (dancesport, men’s breaking)
• Rachel Teo, Jerome Teo (dancesport, mixed waltz)
• Rachel Teo, Jerome Teo (dancesport, mixed Viennese waltz)
• Gary Tsan, Shannen Tan (dancesport, mixed pasadoble)
• Men’s water polo team
Ong Hui Hui found Amanda Yeap from a free-hit and the forward rifled a shot in to draw level and give the impetus to the defending champions.
Singapore upped the tempo and their increased pressure finally told when, with two minutes left, defender Jerelee Ong intercepted a pass from Aliisa Syrjaenen and finished with aplomb.
"We knew from the start that Thailand were going to come back strong after the group-stage defeat, so we expected a very high-intensity game," Khng told The New Paper.
"Perhaps the nerves may have set in, but the girls managed to calm down and follow the gameplan.
"We were unlucky, we had very good chances at goal, but were unable to finish. Otherwise, the scoreline may have been different."
When asked what she told her side during the break to inspire a third period of control that included the final two goals of the match, the 37-year-old said: "During the break, we reminded them of what our gameplan was.
"We kept telling them to stick to it, keep it simple and to play to our game rather than at the tempo of our opponents."
The world No. 15 side not only retained the gold they won on home soil in 2015, they also used this tournament to prepare for the World Floorball Championship (WFC) in Neuchatel, Switzerland, where they will take on Thailand (19th) in their Group D opener on Sunday.
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"The SEA Games has helped us work out the kinks and we also know where we can improve on, so we will be trying to work on that and be ready for the WFC," said Khng.
"Winning the gold at the Games gives us a psychological edge over Thailand, but we will not rest on our laurels... We still have to move on and focus on one game at a time."
In the later game at the same venue, Kenneth Koh, the Singaporean coach of both Thailand's men and women sides, exacted some measure of revenge in the men's final.
The Thais were down 8-4 in the third period, but managed to mount a comeback, with their Player of the Match Santipong Sukkasem providing the inspiration.
The Thais levelled the tie at 8-8 with only 2 minutes 8 seconds to go, and had the opportunity to win the game when they were awarded a penalty stroke in extra-time.
Alexander Rinefalk had his effort saved by goalkeeper M. Devanand, but he wasn't to be thwarted for the second time when he slotted home first during the penalty shoot-out.
Akmal Shaharudin levelled proceedings at 1-1, only for Tnakit Kayairit to restore the lead for the Thais.
Singapore, at 2-1 down, were relying on R. Suria for a lifeline, which, unfortunately, did not come.
Singapore coach Lim Jin Quan, who took over at the helm in April, said: "Both teams wanted to win really badly...
"During the third period, there were some lapses in concentration which they capitalised on...
"Highly regrettable that we did not emerge on top."
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