This young Singaporean squad went head-to-head with one of the most experienced state teams in the tournament, and produced a result which was commendable and decent, despite the loss. Moreover the team qualified for the semi-finals as well, achieving their primary target. This was confirmed as Negeri Sembilan won against Penang in the other group stage match that took place before Singapore clashed with Perak.
Singapore started the first 25 minutes trying to understand and hold out one of the best Malaysian sides from playing their hockey but was merely unsuccessful when Perak took the lead through a well-constructed penalty corner. The half ended with Singapore trailing by a goal.
As both the teams headed for their half-time team talk, head coach Bakri devised another strategy on how his team could counter the oppositions’ attacks as well as turn the score line around. As to what Jaspreet Singh explained in regard to the previous game on how his team might not have performed according to the game plan most of the time against Penang, attitudes were changed this time around as the team were focussing on what Bakri was lecturing as well as pointing out individual mistakes that should be reduced in the last 25 minutes of the game
As the second half commenced, Singapore were patient in their build-up play and got on the attack more often, after adapting to the intensity of game from the first-half. Sooner than later, a flawless attacking tactic was carried out by Singapore as Gurditt Singh received the ball on the end line before taking a few steps ahead, accurately hitting the ball towards the centre of the D.
Singaporean center-forward Naamras Singh got himself into a good position inside the D but was then cancelled out by Perak’s center-back. As Singapore thought one of their few perfect attacking displays had gone to waste, it was not over when left winger Gurveer Kaven Singh Gill saw his chance as he slid in to meet that cross, executing a picture-perfect deflection towards the left side of the goal. Singapore had equalised as Gurveer secured his first goal of the tournament.
Singapore held on as much as they could as they were following what Bakri planned for them. However, luck had deserted this side towards the end when Perak was awarded another penalty corner and capitalised on it before the hooter sounded for the end of the game sooner than later.
The game ended with a score of 2-1, in favour of Perak. Singapore returned to their hotel with their heads held high, as this was one of the best performances, they produced so far against one of the best teams that comprised quality players in this tournament.
“I think the game went swimmingly. The lads played their hearts out against a side that is extremely experienced and skilled. Perak comprises players that have had the opportunity to play hockey for their country. So they are incredibly skilled and experienced. How can I not be proud of my team? The predominately young squad with varying levels of experience rose up to the occasion and played exceedingly well for themselves, their teammates, and the state of Singapore” mentioned a proud Singaporean defender Balvinder Singh.
Balvinder also praised goal scorer Gurveer and emphasised how important each team member is to the team, no matter their capabilities, “the goal Perak conceded was scored by a far post deflection by Dr. Gurveer Kaven Singh Gill who only picked up the hockey stick two months ago. It is amazing what we can achieve together”.
Balvinder, when questioned about the team’s recent qualification to the semi-finals, responded firmly and confidently, “It never does get easier does it? Contrary to the group stage, the semi-finals and finals will take place on grass. Grass hockey is an entirely different game. However, the team has been preparing well for grass hockey. For us, a new day, a new game. We learn from yesterday and move forward. We are in positive spirits”.
“We’ve been very disciplined in this tournament in following a system set by coach Bakri. As the youngest squad in the tournament, we have nothing to lose. Let’s keep up the momentum and discipline! We hope to do everyone proud as we’re looking to build a squad not only for this tournament but for the future” mentioned a motivated Balvinder in prior to the Semi-finals against Kuala Lumpur.