Netball: Asian crown beckons Singapore's Under-21s

Singapore's Under-21 co-captain Aqilah Andin (above, second from left) defends during their Asian Youth Netball Championship's semi-final against Sri Lanka as team-mate Joanna Toh assesses the situation. Singapore won 58-32, and will face Malaysia in
Singapore's Under-21 co-captain Aqilah Andin (above, second from left) defends during their Asian Youth Netball Championship's semi-final against Sri Lanka as team-mate Joanna Toh assesses the situation. Singapore won 58-32, and will face Malaysia in the final today.PHOTO COURTESY OF ZHENG QIQI

Singapore have to defeat rivals Malaysia to regain the netball title they last won in 1994

None of them were born when Singapore last captured the Asian Youth Netball Championship in 1994, but the Republic's Under-21 team are now one win away from writing history of their own.

They defeated top seeds and defending champions Sri Lanka 58-32 in yesterday's semi-finals at the Jeonju World Cup Stadium in South Korea, and have set up a rematch against Malaysia today (2pm, Singapore time).

Singapore, third in the past two editions, had faced the second seeds in the group stage and lost 50-53. However, victory today will see Singapore crowned champions for just the second time since the competition began in 1994.

National 21 & Under head coach Huang Po Chin was delighted with her side's performance against the Sri Lankans. She said: "The team really executed the game plan well. In terms of consistency, this has been their best game so far. We did well in decision-making and timing today, and adapted well in defence."

Singapore, whose shooters converted 76.3 per cent of their attempts while their opponents were held to 66.7 per cent, led after every quarter of the last-four clash.

Still, Huang acknowledged there were improvements to be made in areas, like maintaining possession.

She said: "In terms of defence, we will have to come up with a better strategy to go against Malaysia's two experienced shooters."

She added that her side have to ensure they convert a high percentage of centre passes into points.

Third-seeded Singapore posted group-stage wins over hosts South Korea (108-6), India (walkover) and Taiwan (79-15).

They will face a Malaysian side, champions in 2013, buoyed by their dominant 70-40 victory over Hong Kong in the other semi-final.

Singapore Under-21 co-captain Olivia Wu is eager to avenge that early-round loss to the Malaysians. The see-saw match had seen both teams swop the lead after each quarter before Malaysia edged clear in the closing minutes.

The 20-year-old, who plays as a centre or wing attack, said: "It was only in the last quarter that we lost momentum. In a high-level competition (like this) we have to stay in control, and control was something we lacked in our previous game against Malaysia."

Goalkeeper Joanna Toh added that the team are nervous and excited ahead of the showpiece final.

"We had a tight fight then, and we have a good chance (to win the title this year)," she said. "We all have to rest up after today, and we should be good to go."


Correction note: An earlier version of this story stated that Singapore's netball team's rematch against Malaysia is at 3pm today. It is actually 2pm. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 13, 2017, with the headline 'Asian crown beckons for U-21s'. Print Edition | Subscribe