RI hold on for win as Saints rue penalty miss

RI hold on for win as Saints rue penalty miss

His team had just lost 1-0 to defending champions Raffles Institution (RI) in the final of the National B Division Boys' Hockey Championship.

After spending a few minutes consoling his crestfallen teammates on the pitch, St. Andrew's Secondary School captain Dineshraj Naidu walked over to the victorious RI side and shook hands with his opponents, offering his congratulations for a match well played.

Little wonder Dinesh was presented with the Good Sportsmanship Award, alongside RI goalkeeper Keane Kwa.

Speaking to The New Paper after the match at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium yesterday, the 17-year-old said the "high-intensity" match could have gone either way.

"We had a 50-50 chance of winning," said Dinesh.

"But we lacked the motivation needed at the crucial moments, and we would have won if we had done a better job of marking our opponents."

Nevertheless, Dinesh was pleased with his team.

Last year, the Saints were knocked out in the quarter-finals of the competition, and they managed to reach the final this time despite being plagued by a slew of disciplinary problems in the midst of their preparations.

DIFFICULT

"It was a very difficult journey" was all Dinesh would say. "We were the team least expected to reach the final."

The Saints had a chance to equalise the score with a penalty shortly after RI captain Marcus Ooi had opened the scoring in the second half.

But RI's Keane saved the penalty, sealing victory for his team.

RI teacher-in-charge and coach Muhammad Fazly said 15-year-old Keane had worked hard after being the second-choice custodian last year.

"He has really stepped up and improved a lot," said Fazly.

RI captain Marcus Ooi, 16, expressed relief at the hard-fought win.

He said: "Our opponents played very well, and it was a close victory. I'm very glad our hard work paid off."

The final was the two captains' last match in the B Division.

Dinesh, who will be handing the captaincy over to younger brother Hariraj, had some advice for his successor.

He said: "I'm going to tell him to keep the team disciplined, work hard, focus, and believe in one another.

"This will help them go far both in hockey and in life."


This article was first published on April 11, 2015.
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