Singapore floorball coach upbeat ahead of World Championship
Singapore floorball coach tips men's team to achieve best-ever showing at next month's World Championship
Singapore floorball coach Matti Joutsikoski has thrown down the gauntlet to the Republic's opponents at next month's World Floorball Championship (WFC), declaring that the men's national team will produce their best-ever performance at the showpiece event.
Singapore finished 12th in the inaugural WFC in 1996 in Sweden and that has remained their best finish at the biennial tournament.
However, Joutsikoski is confident that his side, ranked 17th in the world, can outdo their predecessors at the tournament in Prague, Czech Republic, from Dec 1 to 9.
"We are going to have the best-ever results Singapore have achieved, that's our target," the Finn told The New Paper at the sidelines of the national teams' jersey launch at Our Tampines Hub last Friday.
"We want to demonstrate clearly and squarely that Singapore have taken significant steps in the last couple of years."
To realise this target, the team will embark on an 18-day training camp - the first ahead of a world championship - in Tampere, Finland.
The Scandinavian nation boasts world-class club sides in SC Classic and Turun Palloseura (TPS), and their national men's team are the world's top-ranked side, partly due to their status as the WFC holders.
"Classic are the current Finnish champions, winning the league three times in a row and half of the Finland national team come from Classic," the coach said.
Their passing is like our shooting and that can pose a huge problem... National floorballer Siraaj Ramadhan, on the quality of play at Finnish club SC Classic, whom the Singapore national men’s team will be training with before next month’s World Championship
"We have the opportunity to train where world champions train and excel, and we want to get our team competitive in that setting.
"There will be high-intensity training sessions with Classic, with game elements factored in.
"It is the same with TPS. They are one of the top clubs in Finland and we will visit them as well. In fact, we will have one friendly match against a TPS farm (reserve) team."
National player Siraaj Ramadhan can attest to the quality of Classic, having undergone a 40-day training stint with their academy earlier this year.
"One of the biggest differences between Finland and us is the speed," said Siraaj, who turns out for Black Wondersticks in the top division of the Singapore Floorball League.
"They have superhuman reaction time. We may have similar technical ability, but we don't react in game situations the way they do.
"The other big difference is the speed at which passes are made. Their passing is like our shooting and that can pose a huge problem...
"Hence, being able to train in Tampere for close to three weeks at such an electric pace ahead of the world championship might give us that added advantage over our group-stage opponents."
Singapore are in Group D, along with Slovakia (world No. 10), Canada (12th) and Japan (16th) in the 16-team tournament.
The Republic's record against their group-stage opponents may not make for favourable reading but, Joutsikoski, who took over the reins in May 2017, has the measure of his opponents.
Singapore have played Slovakia and Canada once and lost both encounters, while they managed two wins and three draws in 10 outings against Japan.
"We have three teams with different styles," he said.
"Canada have an excellent ice hockey background and we have played against them before (a 2-1 loss in the 2016 WFC, when Joutsikoski was Singapore's assistant manager).
"We played against Japan a number of times, with the last two meetings ending in draws.
"(Slovakia) had an excellent tournament against Latvia, Germany and Denmark just a couple of weeks ago, so we know that they are a technically good and fast side."
A 26-man squad will depart Singapore for Tampere tomorrow and Saturday before heading to Prague on Nov 27, with only 20 players retained for the WFC.