REPORTING FROM KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
They needed just two goals to preserve their gold medal streak. But by the end of the game, the Singapore men’s water polo team did more than that en route to the Republic’s 27th gold medal in the sport.
They sent out a statement with their 17-4 drubbing of Malaysia at the National Aquatic Centre in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday (20 August), indicating that they aren’t ready to give up their title as the undisputed champions in men’s water polo at the SEA Games.
Singapore went on the offensive right from the start and despite facing early pressure from Malaysia, they managed to take the two goal lead they need in the first quarter through Koh Jian Ying and Bryan Ong.
That helped to settle some early nerves and allowed them to dictate the game.
Koh scored again early on in the second quarter to give Singapore a 3-0 lead, but Malaysia managed to pull one back through Fam Jia Yi while Singapore were a man down midway through the second quarter.
But the defending champions hit back immediately, with a shot from Loh Zhi Zhi proving unstoppable to restore their three-goal cushion, before Cham Kung Yang and Yip Yang scored two quick-fire goals to extend Singapore’s lead.
The Singapore pressure did not relent in the second half. In the third quarter alone, they scored seven times, one more than they did in the entire first half, with goals from Koh (twice), Chiam Kun Yang (twice), Loh (twice) and Chow.
Malaysia looked shell-shocked as the score ballooned to 13-1.
By then, the fourth quarter was a mere formality.
Malaysia scored twice early in the fourth through Leung Chee Liang and Soh Yong Wee to reduce the deficit, but Singapore stretched it again.
Koh scored his fifth of the game, while Sean Ang, Yip and Yu JunJie got onto the scoresheet to give it an icing on the cake.
Malaysia scored once again through Toh Yi Hang with 17 seconds left on the clock, but it was nothing but a mere consolation.
Indonesia, who scared Singapore with a draw on Friday, took silver, and the hosts walked away with a bronze medal based on goal difference.
Despite the result Malaysia regards this year’s water polo campaign as a successful one, having finished outside of the medals in the previous edition.
Coach Dejan Milakovic told Yahoo News Singapore, “These boys, all have great potential. Today they showed the potential. Nobody won one game in the tournament with such a big goal difference. As I said, defence is there. We need to work on our confidence and concentration in big pressure. That is the biggest lesson of this tournament.”