Singapore held to shock draw by Indonesia but still on track for 27th consecutive gold
It was a shock result that nobody saw coming.
After all, Singapore's water polo boys have won every single match at the SEA Games since 1965.
So there were a lot of dropped jaws when the Republic were held to an unexpected 4-4 draw by Indonesia in a round-robin match at the National Aquatics Centre in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
In fact, Indonesia even led the 26-time champions 4-3 in the final quarter, before Ang An Jun saved his team's blushes with an equaliser.
Team captain Loh Zhi Zhi was "disappointed" with their performance yesterday, but hailed their cohesive teamwork.
"We always expect a really good performance from ourselves, and that was the disappointment. But wins and losses are part of the game, so we cannot expect to win all the time," he told The New Paper.
"There were a couple of lapses that occured during the game and Indonesia were able to capitalise on their chances.
"We played as a team and covered each other's back, but the momentary lapses in concentration and bouts of miscommunication caused the goals."
Singapore took a 2-0 lead in the first quarter through goals from Samuel Yu and Chiam Kun Yang.
Chiam found the back of the net again in the second quarter to increase his team's lead, but the Indonesians reduced the deficit with a goal from Maulana Bayu Herfianto.
The turning point came in the third quarter, when the Indonesians scored three goals through Ridjkie Mulia (brace) and Benny Respati to take a shock lead for the first time.
Singapore, however, regrouped in the final quarter before Ang came to his team's rescue.
After three matches, Singapore have the same record as Indonesia with two wins and one draw, but sit on top of the table with a superior goal difference of 13 (24 goals scored and 11 conceded).
Indonesia have a goal difference of seven, having scored 17 goals and conceded 10.
With a six-goal lead on Indonesia, Singapore are in the driver's seat to win their 27th consecutive SEA Games gold medal. The Republic take on Causeway rivals Malaysia in their final round-robin match tomorrow while Indonesia meet the Philippines.
Said Loh: "The hunger is there, and we have high expectations for ourselves.
"But we just want to reap the fruits of our labour, no matter the colour of the medal.
"To say that our medal target is not gold would be false, but we are going to let the result take care of itself.
"We will be as prepared as we can be."