Water polo: Singapore beat Indonesia 16-2 to claim inaugural Inter Nations Cup 2022

Singapore's water polo men's team won the inaugural Water Polo Inter Nations Cup 2022 on May 22, 2022. PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Singapore's water polo men's team took the first steps towards reasserting their regional dominance by winning the inaugural Water Polo Inter Nations Cup 2022 on Sunday (May 22).

The Republic's unbeaten and 27 gold-winning streak at the SEA Games was ended in 2019 by Indonesia. The sport was excluded from this year's Hanoi Games with the five-day meet at the OCBC Aquatic Centre organised as an alternative competition.

The hosts fielded two teams, Singapore A and Singapore B, with the former comprising eight players that were part of the side that settled for a bronze medal at the 2019 Games in the Philippines.

Singapore A thrashed Indonesia 16-2 on Sunday to end their campaign with five straight wins - beating Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore B as well - to emerge as champions in the round robin format. They scored 81 goals and conceded 17.

Captain Lee Kai Yang, 28, who won gold at the 2015 and 2017 SEA Games and was in the 2019 squad as well, said "Today's result belongs to the entire training squad that has been putting in the time and making the sacrifices to get us to where we are today.

"We played to our game plan. It was definitely not perfect and we are always looking to improve but I'm thoroughly satisfied with how the entire team played. Mistakes were made but we covered for each other which is the most important part."

On the significance of beating their regional rivals, Lee noted: "It's important because it gave the players a reminder that in sports no result is fixed until the game is played.

"We're happy with the win but more importantly, the team will continue to work hard. We will continue to put in the time and effort that is necessary and hopefully when we next compete, the results will be in our favour."

Interim national men's coach and technical director Kan Aoyagi, 42, was pleased with the performance and called it "almost a perfect game".

He added: "I really wanted to beat Indonesia today. Also, the team was really nervous in the earlier games and they're not used to playing in front of many spectators (due to the pandemic) so we wanted them to get experience playing in such an environment again."

Indonesia's coach Benny Respati, 37, who was assistant to Serb Milos Sakovic at the 2019 Games, said: "We only had a short time for preparation and we knew Singapore is a very strong team.

"Sixty per cent of our players are from the junior squad and are in the national team for the first time. Now, they know their level and what they can improve on.

"We can learn so much from these tournaments and I hope it can be a regular tournament for the region."

In the women’s tournament, Malaysia beat Singapore B 9-3 in the bronze medal match while Singapore A beat Thailand 9-4 to be crowned champions.

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