Hockey men trounced 7-0 by Malaysia Under-20s
Men's hockey team thrashed 7-0 by Malaysia U-20 side, but coach Casoojee not fazed
They were a goal down within a minute of the start, pinned back for much of the match, and ended on the wrong end of a 7-0 drubbing.
The Singapore men's hockey team (above, in red), who will compete at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games here from June 5 to 16, took on a younger Malaysia Under-20 side last night.
But the gulf in class was all too apparent.
On Tuesday, Singapore had lost 2-1 to the same opponents in the first of a series of five friendly matches at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium.
But, despite two straight defeats and a crushing one last night, Singapore coach Solomon Casoojee (inset) was not at all worried about his side's SEA Games prospects.
"This has been the problem with the team since day one; when they have an off-day, it's a real off-day. Today was one of those days," said the South African.
"We've got to a stage where the boys know themselves that this (type of performance) is not good enough.
"It's an issue of not keeping things simple, and trying to overdo things.
"Until the boys absorb that message, we will always have this problem of inconsistency.
"But am I worried? No. I know we have many good games ahead of us.
"And this is the right time to have hiccups."
Singapore and the Malaysian Under-20 team will compete in the Games, which will also feature Myanmar and Thailand.
When Malaysia announced last month that they would be fielding an age-group side - as a stepping stone to the Junior Asia Cup in November - there was an air of optimism in the local hockey fraternity.
Many even felt that the hosts could clinch the gold on home soil.
Judging from last night's performance, however, the Singapore team - with an average age of 22 years - have a lot of ground to make up.
They trailed 4-0 at half-time, committed a whopping 60 turnovers, and managed just one shot on target from six penalty corners.
The Malaysians, in contrast, stayed sharp and hungry throughout the 70-minute game.
And they were clinical - converting seven of 15 shots on goal, 11 of them on target.
Strangely, Casoojee said his charges performed better last night than during the 2-1 defeat on Tuesday.
"The first game was scrappy, both teams were nervous and I think Malaysia gave us too much respect," he explained.
"But we have six front-line players out injured, (so) we're trying different things. These friendlies are a great opportunity for that.
"A gold medal is still very possible. We just have to consistently do the simple things right."
Singapore's next three friendly matches against their Causeway rivals will be played tomorrow, on Saturday and Monday - all at the Sengkang venue.
Defender Jaspal Singh said last night's defeat was not down to complacency, and paid credit to the Malaysians.
He said: "We were not up to standard, that's for sure.
"But credit to Malaysia, they were much better and more clinical than the first day.
"As for the gold medal, yes, we do talk about it, and we have a strong belief we can do it.
"We are not going into the SEA Games with a defeatist attitude."