Polo boys close in on 25th gold

Polo boys close in on 25th gold
Singapore (blue caps) beat Indonesia 8-5 in a water polo match of the 27th SEA Games in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Dec 9, 2013.

With defence vanguard Loh Zhi Zhi holding fort in point position and the quick reflexes of Nigel Tay in goal, Singapore's water-polo men formed an almost-impenetrable shield as they trotted out an 8-5 win over Indonesia at the SEA Games yesterday.

In effect, that Singaporean wall has remained impassable for the past 50 years, with the team's latest result at the Zayar Thiri Swimming Pool in Myanmar virtually securing their 25th successive SEA Games title.

The nation's long reign, a rarity in sport, will be extended officially today should they beat Myanmar to claim their fourth victory in four games of the five-team round-robin contest.

For many, that victory is a foregone conclusion as the hosts' team, made up of military men, were formed only six months ago. They lost their first two games - 1-30 to Indonesia, 3-22 to Thailand.

Singapore coach Lee Sai Meng, however, insisted yesterday that the celebrations will have to wait - out of respect for the hosts. But his relief was apparent.

Lee, who has been part of the legacy since 1995 when he was a player, said the main hurdle to retaining their title had been crossed with their win over their main title rivals.

He added: "If there was a meter for measuring the pressure before the game, it would have passed the limit.

"Retaining a title for such a long history is not easy. There will never be an easy game. Whichever team we play, they all want to beat Singapore."

It was clear that he and his team were determined not to be remembered as the ones who dropped the ball.

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