Singapore's women's water polo team sent out a warning to their rivals with a 7-4 win over Indonesia in the first match of the 28th SEA Games yesterday.
The defending champions overcame their pre-match jitters and fended off their Indonesian opponents' aggressive attacking.
With the win, Singapore are on track to retain their title from 2011 - the last time women's water polo featured at the biennial Games.
Coach Edmund Choo was very pleased with his charges' performance, praising their ability to calm their nerves and recover from a shaky first quarter at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
"They were quite tense at first, so the first quarter wasn't very organised," said Choo, 56.
"But, from the second quarter onwards, they upped their game and everything was settled."
Singling out goalkeeper Eunice Fu for her spectacular saves, Choo added: "The girls have worked very hard over the past five months, and our goalkeeper is also on form after our training trip to Japan last month.
"She has learnt a lot from the way they (the Japanese) train, and I'm very confident of her."
But a modest Games debutante Fu, 24, said: "I just remembered my training and what we've been taught during our training sessions.
"It was just a natural reaction."
Fellow debutante Denise Chen, whose backhand goal in the final quarter drew tumultuous cheers from the home crowd, played down her performance.
"It's really not about the shot that I ended," said the centre forward, 22.
"It's also about my teammates, who made the really beautiful pass to me so I could end the shot well.
"I think this all boils down to all the training we've been through over the past few years."
Centre forward Adelyn Yew, who scored a hat-trick in the 11-9 win over hosts Indonesia in the 2011 final, agreed.
Yew, 30, said: "They are a tough team to beat, but we have a very different team now; our team are a lot younger and faster.
"We've trained very hard together, so I would say we have improved and increased our dominance over them."
The Singapore Swimming Association's women's water polo Player of the Year added that the players will be counting on crowd support.
"Being at home really helps," said Yew. "Seeing our friends and family in the stands and hearing them cheer for us will give us the extra energy to push forward if we're down."
Having tasted gold once, Yew is determined for a repeat.
This article was first published on June 11, 2015.
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