MUSCAT, OMAN 12/7/2014: The boys took awhile to settle down in Oman but they couldn't have done it at a time any better than the day of our first official game. We'll be playing two official games against Oman in an attempt to convince to the SNOC that we're worthy a place in Incheon. Oman has been generous enough in putting their hockey league on hold and letting us have a few test matches with them leading up to Asian Games.
It was a real challenge cause we are all playing during the fasting month but it's no excuse for us not to perform well since the Oman side is fasting too. Basically we're like owls – asleep during the day, up during the night. It was a 10pm game and all the preparations were positive throughout. Beginning from the bus ride to the stadium, to the warm up and to the huddle just before the game, the noise and the intensity was just right. I think that's what works for us. Neither can we be too serious nor too relaxed in order to have a good game.
The first quarter began with both sides showing extreme pace on and off the ball. It's almost as though there weren't any room for anyone to make an error, if someone does, the opposing player is all ready to capitalize on it. Both teams had plenty of chances however neither side was able to convert any. The second quarter saw more life in the teams with Singapore attacking with fast flowing hockey. The 'pass and go' tactic that works well for us were put to good use and that really split the Oman's defense when going forward. Also, we managed to reduce the running by letting the ball do the work. After the first half, the score was still goal-less until Singapore broke the deadlock in the third quarter with Karleef scoring the first goal from a scramble at the penalty spot. The ball was played down the line by Ishwarpal the beastly legend for Johnson to run onto, dribble past the defender down the base line before making the pass for Karleef to tap it in. Not too long after, the Omanis managed to get a penalty corner and converted it by flicking the ball past Suresh's stick side low. Towards the end of the third quarter, we won a penalty corner and Sabri converted it with a drag to the keeper's stick side only to get a slight deflection from it before sending the ball home! By the fourth quarter, both teams started to show fatigue and ran out of legs with all the unnecessary passes and soft turnovers at the vital areas. Midway through Oman conceded another penalty corner. Haseef flicked the ball past the post-man and the keeper's bottom left. Singapore finally had the two-goal cushion from Oman and focused on retaining possession right after.
3-1. Singapore won its first out of two matches against Oman and we'll be preparing for our second game on the 15th. Here's wishing the team all the best for the next game and may we give our all and leave the field with no regrets. For Korea!