Monday, 21 August 2017 : It was an emotional moment for the hundreds of netball fans who converged at Stadium Juara in Bukit Kiara on Sunday (20 Aug) when Malaysia dethroned defending champions Singapore 65-41 to wrest the gold medal.
After all, it was 16 years ago that the Malaysians won the gold medal when netball was first introduced in the Southeast Asian Games. However, the sport was excluded from the biennial Games from 2003-2013 and made a re-entry when Singapore hosted the 2015 Games and emerged champions.
The Malaysia-Singapore final was played in a packed stadium, with Prime Minister YAB Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, his wife YABhg Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor and Youth and Sports Minister YB Brig Gen Khairy Jamaluddin among those present to support the home team.
But the long wait was all worthy as Australian Tracy Robinson charted Singapore’s downfall with a bunch of energetic, highly disciplined and committed Malaysian players in the final.
The hosts avenged their narrow 46-43 defeat to Singapore in the 2015 SEA Games with Malaysian goal shooters An Najwa Azizan scoring 31 points, Norashikin Kamalzaman added 16, L. Krishma sinked 13 points and Izyan Syazana Mohd Wazir contributed 5 points.
It was the host who dominated the game with An Najwa sinking succession shots as the first quarter ended 20-7 before the Malaysians held a 36-12 lead in the second quarter.
The Singaporeans dug deep into their reserves to mount a comeback in the third quarter, with Charmaine Soh sinking over 15 points but the hosts continued to extend the lead to 51-28 and as the clock ticked away, the moment of truth was beginning to sink into the defending champions. At the final whistle, the game ended 64-41 in favour of Malaysia.
“I am excited with joy. We won the gold again after a long and exciting battle,” said An Najwa. “This has been an exhilarating experience. It was tough in some matches and we had it quite easy in some.”
Singapore’s vice-captain Nurul Baizurah believes the younger players in the team come out of this defeat and mature into better players.
“With inexperience also come lessons that will be learnt. Hopefully with this tough defeat, we know what needs to be done in Singapore be it fitness or strength,” she said.
“Sometimes when you’re inexperienced, you don’t really know how to cope with pressure from the opposition. It is definitely for the growth of the team, and we’re taking it positively. After all it’s a new line-up for the team, it is a mix of young and old,” added Baizurah.
Source : Internet