Singapore v Malaysia netball: Too close to call, says Thai coach
Asian netball champions Singapore and arch-rivals Malaysia are on a collision course for the SEA Games final.
After the preliminary-round games yesterday, the two nations - who drew 35-35 on Tuesday - top the table with nine points each and are expected to meet again in Sunday's gold-medal match.
But the battle for gold is too close to call, said Thailand coach Chng Li Li.
Following Thailand's 71-32 loss to Malaysia at the OCBC Arena Hall One yesterday, Chng told The New Paper that there is a "50-50" chance for either team to emerge champions.
"I think that in the final, whoever is stronger mentally will win."
Chng, a Singaporean, reckons that the taller Malaysian team have a slight advantage, though.
"The Malaysian players have solid builds, and they stand very strong."
Malaysia continued their domination over Thailand yesterday in a highly physical game that their coach Aminah Asaari admitted was "very rough".
Aggressive play from both sides saw a Malaysian player calling for a quick time-out in the second quarter, and Thai wing-attack Sankam Viyada had to be stretchered out with a sprained ankle at the end of the third quarter.
Chng admitted that her team were initially "messy" with their passes, but picked up the pace in the third quarter, scoring 11 goals to Malaysia's 12.
Malaysia's Asaari felt that her substitutions led to the slight lapse in the third quarter.
She said: "I made substitutions and maybe we were not comfortable with the rhythm... but in the last quarter we came back."
Overall, though, Malaysia were impressive in attack, making 85 per cent of their shots - with goal shooter Norashikin Kamal scoring 41 of their 71 goals.
The Thais face Singapore - who beat Myanmar 85-20 yesterday - and Malaysia meet Brunei in tomorrow's semi-finals.
Chng admits that her Thai team are inexperienced compared to the hosts. "But we will give Singapore a good run," she said.
Chng named Thai centre Sangjan Pacharee as a force to look out for.
"She's a thinker and she doesn't give up. Against Brunei in 2013, she played on despite suffering a sprain."