SEA GAMES 2019: Netball loses gold wins netizens' hearts with fighting spirit
03 December 2019
By Angelina Dass
Defending champions Malaysia beat Singapore for a second time this SEA Games to clinch the netball gold medal while the Republic had to settle for silver yet again. Malaysia’s tenacious attack coupled with Singapore’s nerves saw Malaysia close out the game 48-42.
After a hard-fought match, Singapore’s national netball team settles for the silver as they lose to Malaysia 48 – 42.
A closely fought first half saw the teams tied on 21-21 going into the interval but Malaysia pulled away in the third quarter, closing it 40-30 ahead. Malaysia’s dominance was largely due to their 1.79m-tall goal shooter An Najwa Azizan, who is her country’s first netballer to play in an international league after featuring for Australian club GWS Fury. Together with Karishma S. Loganathan, the sharp shooting duo piled up the points, easing the pressure on their defence.
Singapore’s reply against the third quarter onslaught was the nine goals mustered by Charmaine Soh and Lee Pei Shan, while Malaysia put up 19.
Malaysia GS (goal shooter) An Najwa Azizan battles for the ball with Singapore’s GK (goalkeeper) Sindhu Nair.
Battling hard to close the gap in the final quarter, Singapore threw on Nur ‘Aqilah Afiqah Binte Andin Agustino Saman who played despite nursing a hamstring strain which kept her out of the third quarter. Netizens hailed Aqilah’s performance as well as Sindhu Nair, who displayed exemplary defensive skill and good read of the game. The team’s valiant attempt fell short as Malaysia finished six points ahead.
Some netizens have proclaimed Aqilah and Sindhu as their most valuable players (MVPs) with many saying their defence was the reason Singapore had a fighting chance. Sindhu displayed admirable fighting spirit – and mutant-like leaps – as she did everything possible to thwart the Malaysian attack, right up until the last seconds of the game.
Captain Charmaine Soh shoots for Singapore.
Recounting those final moments, debutant Sindhu said: “I knew I had to fight till the final second regardless of the score, out of pride for our country, to make sure I leave with no regrets, and to respect the sacrifices every single one of us (from the players to the management and so on) have made.
“Before the game, I thought about all the sacrifices I’ve made to be here today and to represent Singapore. It was a proud moment for all of us. We are not full-time athletes and all of us have given up things like time with our loved ones, career progression, sleep, studies and so on to invest everything we could to our journey towards Sea Games.”
Posting on Netball Singapore’s Facebook page, Patrick Loke said “Great defense TeamSG. That interception by Sindhu is awesome!”
“Sindhu!!! Yayay,” posted netizen Huiyi Liang-Leo.
When asked what she thought about the response, she thanked the home supporters saying it is very encouraging and that it was still a “team effort overall”.
“Defensively, we had all seven of us fighting hard to get the ball back every time the opponents had it. We fought hard as one, there was a lot of team work involved before I could get any turnovers for the team,” she said.
Sindhu Nair leaps into the air as she attempts to thwart Malaysia’s goal scoring chance.
Malaysia’s recent mastery over Singapore included a 54-49 win in the round-robin on Friday (29 Nov). Singapore also lost to Malaysia 65-41 in the gold medal match of the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur. Singapore last won the netball gold medal in the 2015 SEA Games held at home.