China sweep past Singapore in hockey semi-finals
But Singapore coach proud of his men, who face Thais in bronze play-off today
WORLD LEAGUE ROUND 1 SEMI-FINAL
(Zang Taozhu 11, 46, 49, E Wenhui 14, 67)
He flicked the ball up and balanced it on his stick, luring the goalkeeper out of his goal before coolly placing the ball over him to make it 5-0.
E Wenhui's moment of magic for China in yesterday's World League Round 1 semi-final against hosts Singapore emphasised the gulf in class between the two sides at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium.
China, ranked 19th in the world, would have been unhappy with some aspects of their play, though, managing to convert only four of their 11 penalty corners and missing a host of gilt-edged chances.
Coach Solomon Casoojee credited his side's defence for China's struggles in front of goal.
The South African said: "I think the boys were defensively solid tonight, despite letting in five goals and I am proud of the work rate that the boys put in today. They fought really hard.
"The goals that China did manage to score are proof of why they are one of the top 20 sides in the world."
Singapore, world No. 38, endured a shaky start, and could not stop Zang Taozhu from converting a penalty corner in the 11th minute. Three minutes later, a deflection off another penalty corner was put away expertly by E Wenhui to make it 2-0
Said Casoojee: "The first half, we did not play with enough composure when we had the ball.
"We turned the ball over too much in the first half because we tried to play too many long balls and I think the players got a bit nervous and did not believe that they could build the ball up from the back and be a bit more patient and play around the outside of the Chinese defence.
"That was something we discussed at half-time just to get the belief that we are good enough to compete against them."
Casoojee's pep talk worked as Singapore were better in the second half, going close on a few occasions.
Singapore captain Enrico Marican had the best chance in the 51st minute when he raced past four defenders but could only blast his shot wide.
China were 3-0 up by then, thanks to a well-worked penalty-corner goal by Zang in the 46th minute.
Zang completed his hat-trick with another penalty-corner conversion, before the coup de grace by E Wenhui in the 67th minute.
Said Casoojee: "Our second half, we played a really, really good game and, if we had done that in the first half, we could have made it a bit of a closer affair.
"We really put up a good fight and I think the boys did the country proud tonight."
The defeat means Singapore will face off against Thailand for third spot today.
Marican is confident his side have what it takes to beat Thailand and qualify for Round 2 of the World League.
"If we bring forward the positive aspects of our performance today, especially our defence, and we are a bit more clinical in front of goal, I think we are more than ready," he said.
WHAT'S GONE MEN'S TOURNAMENT
- 7th-9th placing Vietnam 0 Myanmar 6
- 5th-6th placing Hong Kong 4 Kazakhstan 3
- Semi-final Sri Lanka 5 Thailand 0
TODAY'S FIXTURES MEN'S TOURNAMENT
- 7th-8th placing Brunei v Myanmar (9am)
- Bronze-medal match Singapore v Thailand (3pm)
- Final China v Sri Lanka (8pm)
Sri Lanka v Cambodia (9.30am)
Thailand v Hong Kong (5pm)
Kazakhstan v S'pore (5.30pm)
*All matches at Sengkang Hockey Stadium