Water polo: S'pore boys improve but last-four chances slim, girls are eliminated

HOSTS Singapore are unlikely to qualify for the boys' semi-finals of the 3rd Asian Youth Water Polo Championships.

Although the Under-17 team beat Sri Lanka 20-4 in Group A on Thursday morning at Toa Payoh Swimming Complex, they succumbed 6-16 to the mighty Iranians in the evening, their second loss in three games after losing to Kazakhstan on Wednesday.

Coach Choo Chin Cheng said: "We played a fantastic match this morning against Sri Lanka, the second match against Iran at night was tough as we were playing against a professional team who train full-time. There were mistakes in the second match that should be omitted like passing errors."

Captain Valampurithavan Thamilarasan, 17, added: "Our younger players played well today in fact, with Sean Ang scoring many goals in both matches and carrying the team well today."

Singapore complete the group stage on Friday night with their match against the Philippines at 7.40pm, and barring any upset in the earlier games, Iran and Kazakhstan look good for the semi-finals. From Group B, Japan and China are fancied for the last four.

In the girls' section, Singapore are knocked out after losing 7-14 in Group A to Indonesia, their second defeat following a 5-12 reversal to India on Wednesday.

Either India or Indonesia will accompany Kazakhstan into the last four, while in Group B, Japan and China are the likely qualifiers.

On the girls' final game against the Kazakhs on Friday at 5pm, captain Neo Ser Han, 17, said: "They are a much more experienced team for sure, but we are not going to give up and will aim to make every game a better game."

Singapore's boys finished sixth at the last edition, while the girls are making their competition debut.

The top three teams from this meet will qualify for the World Youth Championships which will take place in Turkey (boys) and Spain (girls) next year.