Northern Ireland too strong for Singapore
Singapore can't find formula to beat Northern Ireland
NORTHERN IRELAND 46
She is usually the Goal Keeper for her club and country, but Chen Lili was thrown into the shooting circle for the first time in her international career yesterday in the Mission Foods Nations Cup clash with Northern Ireland.
The 1.96m-tall player came on just before half- time and spent slightly more than a quarter of the match in attack, before resuming her usual defensive role at the OCBC Arena.
That could not prevent the Asian and SEA Games champions from falling 46-35 as Singapore fail to find any sort of winning formula.
Chen, 25, said: "I've played Goal Shooter only once for my club, in a final, but I wasn't surprised (to play GS tonight) because Ruth (Aitken, national coach)had told me to prepare as one for this game.
"Northern Ireland gave us good pressure and we found it tough to bring down the ball... their bodies were quite big and it was difficult for us to run through, and the team were a bit off today."
Short of throwing the kitchen sink at the opponents, Aitken tried various combinations against the world No. 12 - the highest-ranked team in the six-team Nations Cup - but came up short.
The green-clad Northern Irish players were aggressive from the get-go, fluid in their passes and movement from defence to attack, leaving the Singaporeans - known for their quick movement and passing - trying various players and options, to no avail.
Aitken said: "We are still rusty, really, we made a lot of changes today and it was good to get some new faces on court, but we didn't really deliver the kind of game we would have liked to."
She pointed to the attacking part of the Republic's game - co-vice-captain Charmaine Soh was the only ever-present player up front last night - as an area where the team could have done better.
But, she said: "The Northern Ireland mid-court defenders did a great job and shut down the supply."
The result last night was Singapore's second straight defeat in the tournament and they are all but out of the reckoning for Saturday's final, since matches against the Singapore Invitational will not count towards the point tally.
Northern Ireland and Papua New Guinea are favourites for the final, having won both their matches so far, with the Republic facing unranked and winless Taiwan today.
Captain Micky Lin, who will earn her 100th cap today, said: "Yeah, it was definitely disappointing, it's always on our list to be able to at least get through to the final, but it's tough.
- Papua New Guinea 60 Taiwan 39
- Botswana 46 Singapore Invitational 44
- 3pm: Northern Ireland v Singapore Invitational
- 5pm: Botswana v Papua New Guinea
- 7pm: Singapore v Taiwan