SEA Games: Late goal delivers gold for Singapore’s women floorballers in thrilling final against Thais

Singapore's women's floorball team celebrates beating Thailand 3-2 at the SEA Games in Manila on Dec 1, 2019.
Singapore's women's floorball team celebrates beating Thailand 3-2 at the SEA Games in Manila on Dec 1, 2019.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Singapore's women's floorball team celebrates beating Thailand 3-2 at the SEA Games in Manila on Dec 1, 2019.
Singapore's women's floorball team celebrates beating Thailand 3-2 at the SEA Games in Manila on Dec 1, 2019.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Singapore drew first blood through Natalia Wee in the seventh minute of the floorball final against Thailand at the University of Philippines College of Human Kinetics gym on Dec 1, 2019.
Singapore drew first blood through Natalia Wee in the seventh minute of the floorball final against Thailand at the University of Philippines College of Human Kinetics gym on Dec 1, 2019. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

MANILA –  Minutes after retaining their SEA Games women’s floorball gold on Sunday (Dec 1), Singapore captain Debbie Poh was looking forward to acquiring a different shade of the colour: the golden-brown of fried chicken.

Asked how she would celebrate her team’s thrilling 3-2 victory over Thailand, the 31-year-old leaned forward and said: “Eat Jollibee, we hope.” Perhaps no one was more deserving of a treat than 21-year-old Jerelee Ong, who scored a dramatic winner with only three minutes remaining.

Ong said of her winning goal: “We played really well as a team and we needed the score to reflect that, so I just needed to score.”

She then pumped her fist as she revealed her first thought after the ball went in: “Yes!”

That the defending champions needed her late intervention would have come as a surprise given the bright start Singapore made at the University of Philippines College of Human Kinetics gym.

Only seven minutes had elapsed when Natalia Wee scored to give the Republic the lead and momentum against the Thais, who were swept aside 4-1 when both teams met earlier in the group stage.

Things went downhill from there though. Within two minutes of conceding that goal, Thailand equalised through Thanaporn Tongkham.

Singapore had several chances to retake the lead in the second period but failed to convert and were punished when Natthakarn Aunjai struck to give the team in blue a shock 2-1 lead.

Singapore, who scored 32 goals and conceded just five in four group stage matches, levelled the game at the start of the third period thanks to Amanda Yeap. That set up a tense finish culminating in Ong’s late winner.

 

Poh admitted her side had felt “a bit” of panic when Thailand took the lead but added: “I calmed my team down by reminding them to focus and be patient, and we worked our way up.

“In the group stage, Thailand were not as aggressive and today they played like they really wanted the goal, but we played harder.”

Sunday’s clash was a rematch of the 2015 final in Singapore where the sport made its debut at the biennial Games. That game ended 3-3 before Singapore prevailed in the penalty shootout 2-1.

Floorball did not feature at the 2017 Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Goalkeeper Fariza Begum Mohamed Zabir, 30, was named Singapore’s player of the match for her spectacular saves in Sunday’s final.

Fariza, who in 2015 saved the decisive penalty that secured the gold, said: “It boils back down to the training that we had – we were prepared for such shots and in the game all I did was to be ready and expect the unexpected.

“It’s a good feeling being able to deliver for my team because I know they have my back at every point.”