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THE NEW PAPER Saturday, June 25 2011 ●

Sports

63

Hockey U-18 Asia Cup

‘S’pore have improved a lot’ SEMI-FINAL

SINGAPORE v MALAYSIA (Today, 5.30pm, Sengkang Hockey Stadium) DILENJIT SINGH dilen@sph.com.sg

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ST FILE PICTURES

“They’re one of the best junior Singapore teams I have seen... much better than the one (that competed) at the last Under-18 Asia Cup in Myanmar.” – Malaysia coach K Gobinathan (left)

URING the group stage, he was just concerned with avoiding defending champions Pakistan in the semi-finals – convinced that anyone else from Pool A would be easy opposition. Malaysian coach K Gobinathan managed to achieve that goal by guiding his team to the top of Pool B of the Boys Under-18 Asia Cup, but he has since revised that view. He said: “I thought if we topped the group, we’d get easy opposition. “But I’ve watched Singapore and they are a good team. “I thought they were excellent (in the group phase tie) against Pakistan for the first 25 minutes. “They’re one of the best junior Singapore teams I have seen, much better than the one (that competed) at the last (2009) Under-18 Asia Cup in Myanmar.” Gobinathan’s change of heart pleases Singapore coach Solomon Casoojee. He told The New Paper: “It’s pleasing that he has revised his opinion of us. “We’ve been getting a lot of respect from the international hockey community at this tournament.

“That’s huge, it speaks wonders. It says a lot about the work the boys have done and it’s a great testament to their potential. “We just need the right support so that we can bridge the gap with teams like Malaysia.” However, Casoojee was under no illusions that his side will start as the underdogs against their Causeway rivals at Sengkang Hockey Stadium today. The South African told the media on Thursday that injuries to key players and Singapore Hockey Federation’s prioritisation of the Under-21 Men’s Junior AHF Cup next month means that Singapore won’t be at their strongest for today’s tie.

Availability Zulfadli Jasni Ismail will miss the semi-final with Casoojee adding that around five or six other players will be checked by the physio this morning to determine their availability. However, the national coach has faith in his fringe players even if they aren’t in the same class as his key players such as Haseef Salim and Nur Ashriq Ferdaus Zul’kepli. “They’re here (in the team) because they are good enough,” proclaimed Casoojee. “They might not be as refined as the Haseefs and Ashriqs of this world, but you’re going to get a lot of heart and passion from them.”

SWIMMING

Schooling sets another national record LIM SAY HENG sayheng@sph.com.sg WHEN he was younger, Joseph Schooling dreamt of becoming the fastest butterfly swimmer in Singapore. Last night, the 16-year-old took a major step towards achieving that dream after clocking 2 minutes 0.05 seconds to take the gold medal in the men’s 200m fly event at the Singapore National Swimming Championship at the Singapore Sports School. He shaved more than three seconds off the previous national record of 2:03.61, set by Ng Tze Kang in 2008. Said Joseph, who clocked 2:04.02 in yesterday morning’s heats: “I knew I was going to break the record after the morning swim. “It was a question of how much (time I will take off the previous time). “I wanted to go for a timing of 1:59 really badly... my race plan was to keep up with the Indonesian swimmer (Triadi Fauzi Sidiq) in the first 100m because he had a good first 100m in the morning, and then I would just try to bring it home.” This is Joseph’s second national record –

he broke Bryan Tay’s 100m fly national mark with a 54.19 swim on Wednesday. Nicholas Tan’s 50m time of 24.99 is the only men’s open fly national record that prevents Joseph from being the undisputed men’s fly champion in Singapore. The 1.82-metre Schooling clocked 25.15 in the event on Tuesday – a new national Under-17 mark. Quah Zheng Wen also surpassed Ng’s 200m mark with a bronze medal-winning 2:02.41 swim last night, but Joseph’s time will be recognised as the new record.

Record books Asked on missing out on the record books last night, Zheng Wen, 14, said: “It is one of my pet events, but it’s okay because I wasn’t really preparing for this event. “I was training more for the IM (individual medley)... I swam quite well in the final, considering that I went out quite hard this morning. “(My record-breaking time) is a bonus to me,” said the teenager, who claimed a national Under-17 record with a 4:32.49 swim in the 400m IM on Tuesday.

Selected results ■ Men’s 400m free final: Jeremy Kevin Mathews 4:01.82 ■ Women’s 100m breaststroke final: Samantha Yeo

1:12.40, Cheryl Lim 1:14.32 ■ Men’s 200m fly final: Joseph Schooling 2:00.05 (national and meet record), Quah Zheng Wen 2:02.41 ■ Women’s 50m free final: Amanda Lim 25.86, Mylene Ong 26.20, Tao Li 26.46, Quah Ting Wen 26.93 ■ Men’s 100m back final: Deng Jian 56.87 (meet record), Zach Ong 57.68

RISING STAR: The 50-metre fly national record is the only mark not owned by Joseph Schooling, who aims to be the best butterfly swimmer in Singapore. ST PICTURE


June25-Msia