SINGAPORE - The Singapore men's water polo team will embark on their mission for a 28th consecutive SEA Games gold medal next month brimming with confidence, after winning the Fina Water Polo Challengers Cup Singapore here on Sunday (Oct 13).
Dejan Milakovic's men beat Austria, bronze medallists in this competition in 2015 and 2017, 8-5 at the OCBC Aquatic Centre to clinch the title, after losing the final in 2009 when it was known as the Fina World Development Trophy.
The Republic raced to a 3-0 lead in the first quarter, via goals from Yu Junjie, Chiam Kun Yang and captain Koh Jian Ying, and stretched their advantage to 6-2 at half-time. Singapore then held on to their lead in the second half to claim a morale-boosting victory over the Europeans.
A delighted Milakovic said after the final: "This means a lot to me and team. The final was a difficult game, but the boys kept motivating themselves to push on even though they were quite tired after the tough game against Ireland yesterday.
"It was fantastic that from beginning till the end, they kept their discipline and concentration which showed that this team can achieve even greater things in the future."
There was more joy as Singapore players bagged three awards - goalkeeper Lee Kai Yang was the final's best player, while Ang An Jun was the competition's most valuable player, and Lee Cheng Kang was Singapore's top scorer with 21 goals.
Ang said: "I think what this award really shows is the amount of hard work that we put into training every day. What is most important is that we got the win, we got the gold medal and we are ready for the upcoming SEA Games."
Indonesia - who finished a close second to Singapore at the 2017 SEA Games - were third at the OCBC Aquatic Centre after beating Ireland 14-9 in the bronze-medal play-off, while the Philippines were fifth after beating Hong Kong, China 13-8.
Malaysia, the 2017 bronze medallists, were eighth after losing their play-off 13-8 to India.