Hockey: Hockey women through even after 3-0 beating

Wearing big smiles and happily posing for photographs at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium - to the uninitiated, the Singapore women's team might have seemed a little too happy for one who had just lost 0-3 to Kazakhstan.

But they have reason to celebrate. Despite the defeat yesterday, they were through to Round 2 of the World Hockey League, finishing third (12 points) in Round 1 among seven sides, behind the Kazakhs (13) and table toppers Thailand (18).

Round 2 will be played from January to April next year and this is the second successive time they have made the phase in three editions of the league.

Coach David Viner was pleased, pointing to the fact that only half of last year's SEA Games squad remained, with the Under-21s drafted in to make up a full team.

The 58-year-old Australian said: "Kazakhstan were more experienced, and they had to win to finish in the top three so they really came at us. We struggled a little but I'm proud of how we continued to take the game to them, we didn't stop and hang our heads.

LOOKING AHEAD TO KL

This team has potential and, with enough training and international tournaments, I still believe we can win another silver medal at next year's SEA Games.

ENRICO MARICAN , Singapore men's hockey captain, optimistic about his team's future.

"It's always disappointing to lose a game but the players know they've achieved big things."

Singapore, the fourth seeds, were largely on par with the top seeds, but committed several unforced turnovers and failed to score from one penalty stroke and five penalty corners.

Viner said a training stint in either Hong Kong or Australia is lined up to prepare for Round 2.

While the women celebrated despite their loss, the Singapore men went down 1-3 to Thailand in their third-place match. They had needed to be in the top two to qualify.

China beat Sri Lanka 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out after a 3-3 draw at full-time.

The Singapore men's loss also marked a disappointing end to coach Solomon Casoojee's tenure, who told the team that he would step down after Round 1.

The South African had stayed on despite indicating that he would leave his post after last year's SEA Games.

Captain Enrico Marican said: "It was a really bad game from us, we didn't capitalise on our chances and made a few basic mistakes.

"But the team will have learnt from this tournament. This team has potential and, with enough training and international tournaments, I still believe we can win another silver medal at next year's SEA Games."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2016, with the headline 'Hockey women through even after 3-0 beating'. Print Edition | Subscribe