Day 9, Match 15 (31/7/2011)
China vs Singapore (Champion classification)
Half time: 2-1
Full time: 2-2
Extra time: 2-2
Penalty Shootout: 4-3
By Eddie dos Passos/HKHA
China showed they were a class act as they held their nerve to survive a nail biting penalty shootout to edge out Singapore.
The Lion City boys proved that they are more than capable to match wits and skills with the big boys of the region as they had jumped up a gear and were outstanding in all facets of their game against the super fit Chinese.
Singapore had to overcome jittery opening moments as they settled down and began to confidently play tit for tat with the Chinese squad at their own game of strategy and tactics.
But the lull created by the Chinese as they swung the ball back and forth without any real intention of crossing the half way mark saw them frustrate not only Singapore but also the near packed stadium.
|Singapore goalkeeper Ong Samudra Pang Chian makes a diving save to try and prevent China's Ao Weibao from scoring. China went on to win the penalty shoot-out 4-3 after both sides ended in a 2-2 draw in regulation time. Picture by: Eddie dos Passos/HKHA
With only seven minutes into the game China managed to break into the Singapore circle and grabbed the lead through an Ao Yang field goal.
That was as far as China went as Singapore slowly but surely gained composure and confidence, from defending to inflicting their own style of attack, earning the respect and appreciation of the assembled crowd, who would now and then applaud each time Singapore launched a raid on the Chinese goal or deny China a shot at their goal.
However, it was China to take the lead again, this time Tu Yuanli extending from a 25th minute penalty corner, thus giving his side a 2-0 lead heading into the break.
Singapore, not to be outdone, re-grouped and re-strategized and came out gunning and were rewarded with a hard earned penalty corner much to the discerned of the Chinese officials who immediately launched their protest with officials calling their players off the pitch.
After much deliberation, shouting and hand gesturing from the China management they reluctantly returned to the field to take on the penalty corner which Singapore subsequently put away for a Nur Ashriq Ferdaus Zul’kepli equalizer, sending the fans into rapturous delight.
The goal infused new life into the Singapore side as they poured on the pressure and gave their opponents something to worry about.
The immense pressure began to unfold on China and they eventually conceded a 62nd minute penalty corner, which Karleef Sasi Abdullah fired home to send his side into deliriously morale boosting confidence.
China begin partying after beating Singapore in a penalty shoot-out for the 3rd Men's Junior AHF Cup. Picture by: Eddie dos Passos/HKHA
Knowing that the game was firmly within their grasp Singapore kept their composure and did not allow China too much leeway as they mounted their own attack in their search for a tie-breaker in regulation time.
With the match leveled after 70 minutes and 15 minutes of extra time, it reverted to the dreaded penalty shootout which China survived to win 4-3, and opened the doors to begin Chinese celebrations knowing that the Cup was theirs.
The players in return ran up to their respective officials and in true victorious fashion, tossed them into the air.
|China begin partying after beating Singapore in a penalty shoot-out for the 3rd Men's Junior AHF Cup. Picture by: Eddie dos Passos/HKHA
Singapore players on the other hand, instead of being dejected ran to their goalkeeper Ong Samudra Pang Chian and hugged him as if they had won the game and instead, not blaming him for conceding in the penalty shootout.
Standing there after the final whistle saw Singapore coach Solomon Cassojee receiving a hail of long distance congratulatory calls from Singapore and home, while conducting live phone-in interviews despite loosing to China in reaching a historic Under 21 Cup final.
South African native Cassojee could not stop smiling as he witnessed his side halt the Chinese from completing their mission in regulation time, matching their game pace for pace, move for move, to put Singapore hockey on the regional map.
“We had planned our game accordingly to what the Chinese might do and our strategy paid dividends,” said Cassojee.
“We knew if we didn’t do what was needed China would have rampaged us as with the other teams,” he said, referring to China’s 10-0 semi-final win over Sri Lanka.
“We knew what China are more than capable of doing and we know that they are a good side, and I am certain this final shows both sides are certain to meet again somewhere in the future.”
Cassojee’s counterpart Ti Liguang was impressed with how Singapore managed to keep them at bay and only to fall at the final hurdle.
“From start to end the game was tough. Singapore’s spirit matched us to the end and yes! we were under immense pressure,” said Ti
“I was surprised with the way Singapore played and once we conceded a goal it showed our weaknesses in defense,” he said.
He said he realized that there was a possibility of them heading for extra-time, and he ordered his side to play defensively and it nearly backfired.
“I made the wrong decision and had opted for a defensive stance instead of keeping to a regular counter-offensive strategy,” said Ti.
The coach who hails from Inner Mongolia would now return home and will disband his squad for a much needed break from the game.
|Singapore goalkeeper Ong Samudra Pang Chian receiving Tournament Best Goalkeeper from Hong Kong Hockey Association Honorary Life President Mr. A. F. M. Conway. Picture by: Eddie dos Passos/HKHA
“Everyone will go back to their respective homes before we resume training and prepare for next year’s Under 21 Asian Championship qualifications,” he said.
Singapore will also have a short holiday as they prepare for the SEA (South East Asian) Cup which begins in Yemen from 4th – 11th November 2011.
Fixtures & Results