Singapore, October 13.— Singapore was crowned champion on the final day of the FINA Water Polo Challengers’ Cup men’s tournament at the OCBC Aquatic Centre in Singapore.
Singapore stunned Austria 8-5 after a 3-0 opening quarter, something Austria never recovered from. Austria's big guns were left dormant as Singapore raced all around the pool and took the shots that counted.
Champion team Singapore.
Singapore's breakthrough at this event comes after losing the 2009 final to Kuwait. Austria collected the last two bronze medals — 2015 and 2017 — and will at least go home with silver, although head coach Barnabas Steinmetz, the 2000 and 2004 Olympic champion from Hungary, will be rubbing his head in despair at how the match panned out.
“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”, said a delighted Dejan Milakovic, Singapore’s head coach.
There was more joy in the Singapore camp, with goalkeeper Kai Yang Lee named player of the match in the final, while Jun An was named the Most Valuable Player of the competition. Kang Cheng finished as Singapore’s top scorer in the competition, with 21 goals.
“Winning the Most Valuable Player award of the tournament is not just for myself, but it could not have happened without my team-mates. 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,” An said.
Ireland and Indonesia fought hard for the bronze, but with the tournament's undoubted star, Ridjkie Mulia, converting four penalties en route to six goals and a staggering 37 from five matches, Indonesia crossed the line. Ireland was debuting in Singapore and Indonesia was sixth in 2015 and eighth in 2009.
In the battle for fifth place, Philippines, inspired by Mark Valdez and Vincent Serrano, blazed their way to a 13-8 margin over Hong Kong, whose Gilman Choi was up to the challenge with four of his own.
In the minor classifications, India secured seventh spot with a 13-8 victory over Malaysia and Zimbabwe had a field day, beating Chinese Taipei 30-3 for ninth position.
Silver medallist Austria with TWPC Vice-Chairman Mark Koganov (AZE).
Bronze medallist Indonesia with TWPC Honorary Secretary Wim Keman (CUR).
6. Hong Kong
10. Chinese Taipei
Most Valuable Player:
An Jun Ang (SGP) with TWPC Member Milivoj Bebic (CRO)
Most Valuable Goalkeeper:
Salkan Samardzic (AUT) with TWPC member Takeshi Inoue (USA)
Ridjkie Mulia — 37 goals — TWPC Member Don Cameron (AUS)
Match 21, 10:00, Classification 9-10, ZIMBABWE 30 CHINESE TAIPEI 3
Match 22, 11:30, Classification 7-8, MALAYSIA 8 INDIA 13
Match 23, 15:00, Classification 5-6, PHILIPPINES 13 HONG KONG 8
Match 24, 16:30, Classification 3-4, IRELAND 9 INDONESIA 14
Match 25, 16:30, Classification 1-2, SINGAPORE 8 AUSTRIA 5
All photos: Thanks to Colin Ong/SSA.