SINGAPORE: Thailand defeated hosts Singapore 5-4 to win the women's water polo gold medal at the OCBC Aquatic Centre on Monday (Jun 15).
It was a tight round-robin encounter right from the start, with Alwani Sathitanon giving the lead for Thailand after three minutes. Singapore chased after its first goal fervently and Lynette Tan pulled a goal back before Alwani restored the lead again with just over a minute left to quarter-time.
Both sides resorted to long-ball tactics and it paid for Singapore, as Angeline Teo equalised just before the end of the first quarter with 42 seconds left on the clock.
The scoring eased off in the second quarter with both sides missing chances; the sides went into half-time deadlocked at 3-3. In the third quarter, the Thais ramped up their offensive and Alwani scored for them before their captain Varistha Saraikarn scored via a penalty to make it 5-3.
Singapore's Gina Koh pegged the scores back late in the quarter, but there was to be no more goals in the match much to the disappointment of the partisan crowd in the arena.
Both goalkeepers - Singapore's Eunice Karina Fu and Thailand's Satakamol Wongpairoj - made several successful saves, thwarting efforts to score in the final quarter.
With just three seconds left, Singapore made a last attempt to score - only for the shot to go narrowly past the right-hand post of the Thai goal. There were contrasting scenes as the final whistle blew with delirious joy from the Thai players and their bench, while Singapore's players were visibly upset with many in tears.
"Well we played hard; the Thais also played hard - and we missed a couple of chances to score," said Singapore's water polo coach Choo Chin Cheng. "Thailand played better."
Mr Choo said "rushing for the goal" let his players down. "They should be more calm, they were too careless," he said. "This must be improved - so in the future they can be better."
"I guess we played pretty well, and we played our best and there were no regrets left in the pool. Unfortunately, we lost to Thailand, but we will definitely come back harder and stronger the next SEA Games," said Singapore team captain, Koh.