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Chinese Goliath Edges Out Tiny Singapore (24/07/2011)

Day 2, Match 3 (24/07/2011)

Singapore vs China

Half-time score: 1-0
Full-time score: 2-3

Chinese Goliath Edges Out Tiny Singapore

By Eddie dos Passos/HKHA

Sporting giants China proved their might again when they managed to outwit Singapore in what was expected to be a close encounter at King’s Park.

Playing in front of a near capacity stadium, the fans were treated to some entertaining hockey from both sides as the match started on a cautions note with neither side doing enough to create any chances at goal.

However, Singapore eventually opened up the scoring through some superb advantage play when Muhammad Fazri Mohamed Jailani pounced on a loose ball in-front of goal to give his side a 13th minute lead.

China seemed to drop back to recoup and their tactics eventually paid off as they pressured Singapore into making errors with the strategy working as it allowed the Chinese back into the game through a Zhang Zhixuan field goal deep into stoppage time.

China then went ahead, this time with Zhang again their hero as he snatched the lead from another field goal (42nd) to hand his side a 2-1 advantage.

Not to be outdone, Singapore kept them in contention this time off a Nur Ashriq Ferdaus Zul’kepli 44th minute equalizer.

However, Singapore were unable to fend off the Chinese with seconds remaining, China were awarded a penalty corner with China’s Wang Zipeng converting to deny Singapore a chance to again level.

China coach Ti Liguang was glad his players took the win as it handed his side a moral confidence boost to launch their AHF Cup campaign.

“We have worked hard to prepare for this tournament and a win in our opening match over a strong side makes it all that much better,” he said.

Having spent the past 40 days in Beijing, Ti said all the hard work was worth it. But he admitted there was little room for complacency and that there was still a lot of work needed if they were to be a success in this event.

“We knew coming into this game it was going to be tough. We have little in the way of international experience and against a team like Singapore, it gets to be just a little bit harder,” he said.

He praised Singapore’s players, whom he thought were skillful and felt they had the opening 10 minutes of the game.

“Our players were slightly nervous but once they found their rhythm, they were able to adapt and create chances on their own,” Ti said.

Singapore coach Solomon Casoojee was philosophical about the defeat and accepted they had their work cut out for them.

“We still have a long way to go,” he said.

“We played reasonable but they (Chinese) were very skillful and were quick but I am proud of my boys and they did Singapore proud tonight,” he said.

He said with many of his players were coming back from injury after completing a Under 18 tournament and that games like this were all part of the learning curve.

Casoojee said he was eyeing taking on China again, hopefully in the final and earning a revenge win.