SINGAPORE — Hosts Singapore were crowned champions of the FINA Water Polo Challengers Cup on Sunday (13 October), after they defeated top-seeded Austria 8-5 in the final at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
It was the first time the Republic have won the competition. They also made the final in 2009, when the competition was named the FINA World Development Trophy, but lost to Kuwait.
They raced to a 3-0 lead after the first quarter, courtesy of goals by Yu Junjie, Chiam Kun Yang and captain Koh Jian Ying. Chiam, Ang An Jun and Lee Cheng Kang scored in the second quarter to give Singapore a 6-2 lead at half-time, and two more goals by Lee in the final two quarters of the game saw Singapore hang on to clinch the win.
“This means a lot to me and team. The final was a difficult game, but the boys kept motivating themselves to push on even though they were quite tired after the tough semi-final against Ireland yesterday,” said a delighted Singapore head coach, Dejan Milakovic.
“It was fantastic that, from beginning till the end, they kept their discipline and concentration, which showed that this team can achieve even greater things in the future.”
Individual accolades for Lee, Ang
Goalkeeper Lee Kai Yang was named Player of the Game in the final, while Ang earned the the Most Valuable Player of the competition. Austria’s captain Salkan Samardzic won the Best Goalkeeper Award.
“Winning the Most Valuable Player award of the tournament is not just for myself, but it could not have happened without my teammates,” said Ang.
“What this award really shows is the amount of hard work that we put into training every day. What is most important is that we got the win, we got the gold medal and we are ready for the upcoming SEA Games.”
Indonesia, potentially Singapore’s closest challengers at the SEA Games, clinched third place when they beat Ireland 14-9 in the bronze-medal playoff. Ridjkie Mulia scored six goals against Ireland to take his goal total to 37, giving him the competition’s Top Scorer Award.
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