SEA Games: Water polo boys keep country’s proud legacy afloat

SEA Games: Water polo boys keep country’s proud legacy afloat
Singapore goalkeeper Nigel Tay and captain Eugene Teo put up the barricades to shut out an Indonesian attack. With the victory, the young team can now breathe easier.

NAYPYIDAW - With 24 successive SEA Games titles bagged and carrying the tag of tournament favourites, you would think that Singapore's water-polo players would enter the Zayar Thiri Swimming Pool yesterday full of swagger.

But resting heavily, and invisibly, on the 13 pairs of broad shoulders was also a fear - of being the ones to drop the ball after a 50-year unbeaten streak.

Those fears were put to rest after they recorded their third success in three games with an 8-5 win over main rivals Indonesia.

The nation's long reign, a rarity in sport, will be extended officially today should they beat Myanmar to register 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, and 3-22 to Thailand.

Singapore coach Lee Sai Meng, however, insisted yesterday that the celebrations will have to wait. Still, his relief was undisguised.

He said the main hurdle of retaining their title had been crossed with their win over their chief title rivals.

The coach, whose team included five debutants - two of them as young as 17 - added that if there was a meter for measuring the pressure before the game, the reading would have exceeded the maximum.

"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 men were determined not to let their nation down.

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