Floorball: Floorballers just miss top 12, no longer 'easy opponents'

While Singapore's men's floorball team missed out on their top-12 target by goal difference, they have already amassed more points in this edition of the World Floorball Championship than in their previous four campaigns combined.
While Singapore's men's floorball team missed out on their top-12 target by goal difference, they have already amassed more points in this edition of the World Floorball Championship than in their previous four campaigns combined.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/SINGAPORE FLOORBALL ASSOCIATION

They were on the cusp of securing their best result at the World Floorball Championship since 1992, but it was a case of so near, and yet so far for the Singapore men's team.

They missed out on their top-12 target by goal difference after losing 18-2 to 10th-ranked Slovakia in a Group D match at the O2 Arena in Prague, the Czech Republic, yesterday.

Slovakia topped the group with three wins and six points.

Canada (12th) squeaked into the top two after defeating 16th-ranked Japan 14-2. They had the same record of one win, one draw and three points as Singapore (17th), but claimed a goal difference of +3, which was much better than Singapore's -12.

In the WFC, 16 teams are divided into four groups. The two best teams from Groups A and B proceed to the quarter-finals.

The bottom two teams from Groups A and B will play the top two teams from Groups C and D for the remaining four quarter-final spots. The losers from this play-off will proceed to the ninth to 12th classification matches, while the bottom two teams from Groups C and D play for the 13th to 16th spots.

Singapore coach Matti Joutsikoski said: "Our strategy has been to focus on our strengths such as speed and agility.

"We knew Slovakia would be a tough test as they have the ability to take away space and time from us when we have the ball, but this is not a reason to abandon our strategy.

"Rather, it shows us how much more we have to improve and how much faster we need to execute our decisions on court."

While they failed to achieve their target, their earlier 4-4 draw against Canada and 9-5 win over Japan mean Singapore have already amassed more points in this edition than in their previous four WFC campaigns combined.

Their only previous victory was a 9-5 win over the United States two years ago, and they finished bottom in 1996 (out of 12 teams), 2010, 2012 and 2016 (all out of 16 teams).

Singapore will meet world No. 22 Thailand, who finished bottom of Group C, in the 13th to 16th classification semi-final tomorrow.

Ng Juin Jie, who scored one of Singapore's two goals against Slovakia, said: "We are disappointed because this was one of the best opportunities we had in years to break into the top 12.

"(But) we are not done yet and we can still achieve more in this tournament. We will continue to hustle."

For Joutsikoski, there was some satisfaction in the fact that "Slovakia started with their best players, which shows top European teams are taking notice of Singapore".

"We are not easy opponents for anyone, regardless of what the scoreline suggests," he insisted.

David Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2018, with the headline 'Floorballers just miss top 12, no longer 'easy opponents''. Print Edition | Subscribe