Singapore's women floorballers clinch Asia-Oceania title
Hosts defeat Thailand 4-1 in final to win inaugural competition
Singapore women’s floorballers clinched the inaugural Asia-Oceania Floorball Cup after a 4-1 victory over arch-rivals Thailand at Our Tampines Hub on Saturday (June 23).
The hosts took an early lead with the first shot of the game, as captain Amanda Yeap’s long-range effort in the second minute evaded a sea of bodies to find its way into the net.
But the visitors were quick to respond and equalised just two minutes later after Tikhamporn Sakunpithak struck from an acute angle.
The goal seemed to spark the Thais into life after their sloppy start, and they threatened with some rhythmic passing and dangerous shots.
Singapore, ranked four spots above the Thais at world No. 15, were forced to defend deep, but their patience paid off when Shannon Yeo restored the lead in the 19th minute to take them into the break on top.
Thailand came close to equalising just eight seconds into the second period, with Nelly Johansson firing wide after being put through on goal. The miss set the tone for the rest of the period, with both sides wasting a handful of chances.
The visitors were then handed a massive advantage in the third period, after Singapore's Siti Nurhaliza and Sri Syafizah Safii were slapped with two-minute penalties in quick succession.
But the Thais were unable to capitalise on their numerical edge and were made to rue that missed opportunity minutes later as Nurhaliza returned to the game and extended Singapore’s lead with an easy tap-in in the 12th minute, after being found unmarked at the post.
Things got worse for Thailand two minutes later when Khwanchanok Suksin was penalised for an incorrect substitution. Singapore veteran Debbie Poh then took advantage of the situation with a fine effort from range to the delight of the vociferous home supporters.
On the team’s performance, Singapore coach Louise Khng said: ”The team showed fighting spirit and resilience today, and the home crowd definitely got them going.
“Our constant reminder to them was just to go out there and have fun, and I believe they really enjoyed the game today.”
Singapore have now defeated Thailand in two consecutive finals, after beating them 4-3 on penalties in the 2015 SEA Games final.
Despite the loss, Thailand coach Kenneth Koh was satisfied with his team’s performance, saying: ”Singapore played well and took their chances, and theirs was a well-deserved victory.
“Our players have been playing for six days straight, so it has been physically exhausting, but our expectation was just to reach the final and we’ve accomplished that.”
Meanwhile, it's no rest for the weary as captain Yeap and 10 Singapore players headed for Lodz, Poland, for the World University Championship after the game.
For Yeap, winning the final was important, but the 24-year-old Singapore Management University accountancy undergraduate has already set her sights on their next challenge.
She said: “Winning the Asia-Oceania (Cup) has its perks, but the level of play at the World University Championship is going to be much higher.
“We’ll definitely bring the positivity and team spirit from Asia-Oceania (Cup) to Poland.”
In the day’s earlier games, Japan pipped Malaysia 4-3 after extra-time in the play-off for third place. The Philippines defeated India 8-6 to finish fifth, while Indonesia beat Iran 6-1 to secure seventh spot.
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