Asian Games: S'pore fall short

Asian Games: S'pore fall short

GROUP A

BANGLADESH 2

SINGAPORE 1

Waving the Singapore flag in the stands at the Seonhak Stadium, a group of South Korean schoolchildren lent their voices to the team's cause out on the blue hockey pitch.

Their chanting got louder and more frenetic in the final quarter, as Singapore searched for a goal, but Silas Abdul Razak's voice still rose above the din, his urgency was all too clear.

Waving his hockey stick, his battle cry was a simple one: "Come on!"

Despite surging forward in the final minutes, Singapore fell 2-1 to Bangladesh, a team ranked seventh in Asia, and with that loss, will all but fail to hit their target of finishing highest among the Asian teams outside the established sides in the top tier.

Ranked 10th on the continent, Singapore lost their first two Group A fixtures against Malaysia (4th) and South Korea (1st), and will face Asia's No. 5 side Japan in their final fixture tomorrow.

While coach Solomon Casoojee was disappointed with the manner in which his team conceded the goals, he was firm in his belief that coming to Incheon was not a waste of resources.

"This game could've gone either way, we're definitely not out of our depth here. I don't think it is at all a waste of money to send the team here - there is a longer-term plan at play," said the South African, who blamed the result on his team getting ahead of themselves after dominating the opening quarter.

Receiving Krishno Kumar Das' pass into the D, Pushkor Khisa found himself alone against Singapore goalkeeper A Suresh in the second minute of the second period, and slotted home at the near post.

A Khorshadur penalty stroke four minutes later saw the Bangladeshis double their lead.

Tan Yi Ru scored off a well-worked penalty-corner routine, early in the fourth quarter, but despite throwing men forward, Singapore could not find a way back.

"We are disappointed with the result, but our goal is the 2015 South-east Asia (SEA) Games, and we are using this as a stepping stone, to play at the top level, show that we can compete, and be more professional," said captain Enrico Marican.

"To the people of Singapore, I'd say, we will train harder and come back stronger."

To that end, hockey has additional funding from The Final Push, a SportSG programme aimed at plugging gaps in its Annual National Sports Association Grant Exercise funding, to give various sports their best chance at winning a SEA Games gold medal.

And Casoojee believes this team can only get better.

"Against South Korea (lost 12-0) and Malaysia (lost 8-2) we showed that we can be competitive in the first two quarters, but then fall away in the second two. That we can fix by getting fitter and stronger," said Casoojee, who will have 13 players training full-time for between three and eight months leading up to the SEA Games.

"The average age is just over 21, and we've got a lot of talent here, going forward. We will use The Final Push to show Singapore that we deserve to be funded," said Casoojee.

"By the time the SEA Games come around, we will be fitter and more competitive."

OTHER RESULTS

Group A: South Korea 4 Japan 0.

Group B: India 7 Oman 0, China 6 Sri Lanka 0.

shamiro@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Sept 24, 2014.
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