UPDATE: Singapore relinquished their grip on the water polo gold after 54 years on Friday (29 November), when Indonesia beat Malaysia 14-7 in their final round-robin match.
SINGAPORE — One is a gold medal Singapore had won for the past 27 editions of the SEA Games. The other is a sport the Republic has never won gold at the Games.
And Singapore’s hopes for winning the water polo and football golds at the Philippines SEA Games were dealt hammer blows on Thursday (28 November) by the same rival country – Indonesia – even before Saturday’s opening ceremony.
In what would surely go down as the biggest shock in the Games’ water polo history, the Singapore team were beaten 5-7 by the Indonesians in the city of Clark in the round-robin competition – their first-ever defeat in the history of the event.
This is a side which had won the water polo gold in every edition since the sport was first included in the biennial sports event in 1965 – a staggering 27 times in 27 Games. Even a 4-4 draw with Indonesia at the last SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur in 2017 did not stop Singapore winning the gold.
This time however, they have to hope that their perennial rivals might somehow fail to beat bottom-placed Malaysia in their final round-robin tie.
If Indonesia win as expected, Singapore would be unable to catch up to them in the standings, regardless if they win their remaining two matches against the Philippines and Thailand.
There is no playoff match for the gold medal in this five-team competition.
Young Lions suffer 0-2 defeat
A couple of hours after the shock loss of the water polo team, Singapore suffered a second blow – this time in football, a sport in which they have never won the coveted gold medal in the history of the SEA Games.
Again, it was Indonesia who dealt the Young Lions a 0-2 defeat, and severely dented their hopes of advancing past the opening group stage.
After drawing 0-0 with Laos in their opening match on Tuesday, Singapore had to beat Indonesia to revive their campaign, with even tougher matches to come against defending champions Thailand and Vietnam in Group B.
Instead, goals from Osvaldo Haay (64th minute) and Asnawi Bahar (74th) gave Indonesia their second straight win after a 2-0 upset victory over Thailand on Tuesday.
And with only the top two sides advancing out of the group, hopes are increasingly dimmer for Fandi Ahmad’s charges to prolong their campaign.
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