No happy ending for Casoojee as Singapore lose to Thailand for first time
Amateurish Singapore men fall 3-1 to Thailand in coach's final match
(Kendy Lee 33)
(Thanakrit Boon-Art 32, Surasak Thammueangkhun 42, Adisuan Suphawong 65)
Solomon Casoojee shook his head and stormed into the dressing room at the Sengkang Stadium.
His charges were already out of the running for qualification before yesterday's bronze medal play-off in the World League (WL) Round 1, and there was little to play for.
The 38th-ranked men had already shown against world No. 19 China in Saturday's 5-0 semi-final loss that they could scare higher-ranked teams, and few would have expected their amateurish 3-1 loss to a Thailand side 23 rungs lower in the world order - particularly in Casoojee's last game in charge.
China later beat Sri Lanka 4-2 on penalty flicks, after the match ended 3-3 in regulation time, in the final to win the WL Round 1. Both teams qualified for WL Round 2 by virtue of being the two top sides.
"We made too many amateurish mistakes - we couldn't pass on point, we couldn't even trap the ball right - these things should not happen in any game at this level," said a disappointed Singapore captain Enrico Marican.
"It was really frustrating, this is the first time in my playing career that we have lost to a Thai team.
"We wanted to show our best in Solly's last game, with what he's given to our team, but we didn't."
Indeed, from ex-internationals to Singapore Hockey Federation (SHF) officials, no one could remember the last time Singapore lost to Thailand.
But, yesterday, the Thais were clearly adamant in making sure they are remembered.
Resolute in defence, they took the lead against the run of play through Thanakrit Boon-Art following a swift 32nd-minute breakaway.
Singapore drew level almost instantly through Kendy Lee.
But the hosts were caught out by two other counter-attack goals, in the 42nd minute and five minutes from time.
"It's a sad, disappointing way to end it," said a gutted Casoojee.
"We're not executing game plans, not trapping the ball, not passing the ball, making too many turnovers.
"We can't keep making excuses for the same mistakes we keep making, and this after we did so well against a good China team.
"My one message to the boys is that they really have to break the mould and stop doing the same-old, same-old - it's too frustrating.
"And if they really want to make meaningful change, from the athlete's perspective, it means to be a lot better in the application of the game.
"It's always difficult considering the other demands placed on them, but also decision-making on the pitch also needs to be a lot better."
Like the men, the women also ended with defeat, but David Viner's charges were in a more upbeat mood.
Ranked 43rd, the women fell 3-0 to a Kazakhstan side 10 places above them, but once again shown signs of attacking potential.
Despite the loss, David Viner's charges earned qualification into Round 2, as the third-best women's team here.
The Thai women topped the seven-team standings with a perfect 18 points from six games, with Kazakhstan (13) second, ahead of Singapore (12).
"It's always disappointing to lose. We struggled early (in the game) but I'm so proud of the team, to continue to take Kazakhstan on," said the Aussie, who was pleased that his players achieved their targets.
"We played really well. Some games were easier than others, but we scored 27 goals... and conceded only six - three in this game."
There were positives even for the men, despite also losing defender Sabri Yuhari to retirement.
"Hopefully, the young guys have gained some valuable insights, and go forward from here as a team. They've got a lot of potential. I wish them all the best," said Casoojee, who thanked the Singapore Hockey Federation, the Singapore Sports Institute and Sports Singapore.
"It's a pretty sad way to end but, hopefully, we've been able to lay a decent enough foundation, and they can kick on... with new inputs and some fresh insights."
WORLD LEAGUE ROUND 1 FINAL STANDINGS:
4. Hong Kong
5. Sri Lanka
2. Sri Lanka*
5. Hong Kong
*Qualify for World League Round 2