S’pore men’s and women’s teams finish sixth and fifth at Asian Water Polo C’ships
The national men’s and women’s water polo teams finished sixth and fifth respectively at the Asian Water Polo Championships which ended on Monday in Samut Prakan, Thailand.
The men’s team, who lost 14-7 to South Korea in the fifth-place play-off, came in one spot ahead of fellow South-east Asian rivals and hosts Thailand, whom they had beaten 12-9 in an earlier classification match on Sunday.
They had started the 10-team competition with wins over Kuwait (17-8) and Hong Kong (11-9), but found the other Group B teams too strong, losing 22-6 to eventual winners and four-time Asian Games champions Japan and 25-6 to five-time Asiad gold medallists China to finish third in the five-team group.
But they still clinched a place in the quarter-finals where they lost 18-8 to bronze medallists Kazakhstan, before heading to the placing play-offs.
Singapore captain Loh Zhi Zhi said: “Overall, we had many good games, and though we didn’t get fifth, we did hit our target for this competition.”
He added that the experience of playing against Asia’s strongest teams was good for the team, which has an average age of 23 and featured three teenagers, especially with next year’s SEA Games in Cambodia and the Hangzhou Asian Games coming up.
The team will be hoping to reclaim their SEA Games title in Cambodia after a bronze medal at the 2019 SEA Games ended their 52-year reign as regional champions, as well as improve on their sixth-place showing at the 2018 Asian Games.
Coach Kan Aoyagi, who is targeting gold at the SEA Games and a fifth-place finish at the Asian Games, said: “We have stronger and more experienced players, but for this tournament, we wanted to allow the young ones to gain confidence for next year’s SEA Games. We must get the gold medal this time.”
Women’s team Koh Ting Ting was also encouraged by her team’s performance and believes that the young side with an average age of 23 had plenty of positives to take away from the competition as they lost to strong sides like three-time Asian Games champions China, Japan and Kazakhstan.
While they had lost four of their six games, including a 13-9 defeat by Thailand in an earlier group match, the team wrapped up their campaign with a 18-4 victory over South Korea on Monday to secure their fifth-place finish in the six-team competition.
“We were slightly disappointed to lose to our rivals, Thailand,” said Koh.
“Knowing that there will be a home-ground advantage, we felt like we did not lose to them in physique or ability, but because we let the nerves get to us.”
Koh also had praise for the youngest member in the squad, 16-year-old Ranice Yap, who was making her national team debut at this tournament, saying: “She has great potential and we’re glad to have her at this championships.”