Singapore hockey men win big but are not happy
Singapore coach and players rue missed chances and sloppy play
(Muhammad Ashraf Alias 27, Goh Kai Yang 30, Ahmad Faris Johari 34, Enrico Marican 47, 68, Mohammed Sabri Yuhari 57)
As the Singapore men were going through their warm-down routine, captain Enrico Marican continued to talk, dishing out pointers to his teammates, reminding them of areas of improvement, giving praise and advice.
Despite a 6-0 victory over Kazakhstan in their Hockey World League (WL) Round 1 men's opener yesterday at Sengkang Stadium, everyone from the coaches to the players believe there is room for improvement.
Head coach Solomon Casoojee, in particular, was not pleased with his team's performance.
"I think we were pretty poor. We were very sloppy in our basics, very sloppy in our work-rate and as a result of that we had to do more running than we wanted to," he said.
"We didn't play with discipline and we did not play with enough accuracy.
"We definitely did not score as many as we should have."
The margin of victory may have been a handsome one, but the Singapore performance was marred by inaccurate shooting and they were only able to convert one of their five penalty corners in addition to missing a host of gilt-edged chances.
The hosts huffed and puffed at the start and finally broke the deadlock in the 27th minute when Muhammad Ashraf Alias tapped in from close range after a deflection following a hit by Muhammad Hafiz Abdul Rased.
The lead was doubled three minutes later after a nice passage of play down the right flank that ended with an easy finish by Goh Kai Yang.
Singapore ended the half 3-0 with a fine individual effort by Ahmad Faris Johari, who slalomed past four defenders before sounding the board with a thumping effort.
The second half was the Enrico show as the captain led by example, firing in two goals in between a successful Mohammed Sabri Yuhari penalty corner.
Marican's 47th minute strike was the pick of the two, as he jinked past two challenges before calmly slotting the ball into goal.
The Singapore captain refused to get carried away by his performance, instead focusing on the team's need to be even better as the tournament progresses.
"During the first half, our basics weren't there. It's something that we are struggling with. We were trying to compose ourselves and tried moving the ball but thing's weren't happening," he said. "We got the result but the performance is not what we wanted.
"I think the second half was better but definitely there are areas for us to improve on."
Looking ahead to their next game against Sri Lanka on Tuesday, Casoojee believes his team already have a foundation to work from.
"They just have to do what we have been doing for the last six weeks and play with much more purpose and intensity," the South African said.
"The players have to be less sloppy and should not let complacency creep into their game.
"If we do that, we will have a chance of reaching our target which is to finish in the top two."
Singapore women run riot over Sri Lanka in World League opener
(Nicole Kwek 4, Jerelee Ong Yan Ting 6, 44, Ivy Chan 28, 58, Nadia Ibrahim 65)
SRI LANKA 1
(Imesha Weerabahu 58)
They said they were now a team that played on the front foot and the Singapore women's hockey team proved that last night when they beat Sri Lanka 6-1 in their opening match of the World League Round 1 at the Sengkang Stadium.
With two quick goals in the first half, the hosts continued to pressure their opponents and Ivy Chan scored in the 28th minute to all but end the match as a contest.
To their credit, Sri Lanka did not give up in their search for a goal after the half-time break but Singapore goalkeeper Lam Xin Ni was in fine form and kept them at bay until the 58th minute, when Imesha Weerabahu slotted home past her.
Singapore were 5-0 up by then and five minutes from time, Nadia Ibrahim capped a fine start by the hosts with the sixth goal.
Head coach David Viner was satisfied with the performance of his team.
"It wasn't just the efforts of one player but the entire team," said Australia's Viner, 45.
"The younger players were nervous at the start but had a tremendous second half. They stepped up and played well."
Republic Polytechnic student Jerelee Ong, 18, enjoyed a memorable debut by firing in two goals.
The teenager admitted to nerves, but said: "As the game went on, the nerves didn't get to me anymore.
"Even though we won the game, there are some parts that we need to improve on like converting our goalscoring opportunities," she added, as she looked ahead to the team's next match against Hong Kong tomorrow.
While Jerelee celebrated her first cap in style, two veterans of the team, Lam Xin Ni and captain Laura Tan passed a milestone by earning their 50th caps.
Tan, 25, expects the Hong Kong game to be a tougher fight but believes her team will step up their game.
"We're not sure what to expect going into the Hong Kong game, but we're just going to do what we know best and play."