LAOS and Singapore qualified for the football semi-finals at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games yesterday as Singapore scooped five gold medals in the pool to take them clear at the top of the medals table.
Laos and Singapore, playing each other in the final game in Group B, knew a draw would be enough to take them both through.
Despite chances for the host nation, both sides were reluctant to commit themselves to attack as the second half wore on and the game petered out into a 0-0 draw.
The result sent Indonesia crashing out of the competition after a dismal campaign in which
they won a single point, along with Myanmar, who had beaten Indonesia 3-1 to give themselves a chance of making the last four. Due to the huge interest from local people, both games were switched to the 20,000-capacity main stadium at the National Sports Complex. They were originally due to take place at a smaller 10,000-capacity venue.
Thailand, gunning for their ninth consecutive success in the Under-23 competition, are in Group A. They currently top the standings.
In a busy night in the pool Singapore set the pace, winning five of the seven finals, including a new Games record of 56.03 seconds for Quah Ting Wen in the women's 100 metres freestyle and a new mark in the women's 4x200m freestyle of 8:11.75.
Malaysia's Siow Yi Ting set a new Games record in winning the women's 200m individual medley with a time of 2:14.57.
Singapore, who swept all seven table tennis gold medals at the 2007 SEA Games in Korat, northeastern Thailand, continued their domination, winning the men's and women's team titles.
They have 11 gold medals overall, nearly double the tally for Thailand and Vietnam, who each have six. The only teams yet to win a medal are Timor Leste and Brunei.
Two years ago, then-hosts Thailand dominated the medals standings with 183 gold medals out of a total of 477 well ahead of second-placed Malaysia on 68 and Vietnam on 64.
The 25th Southeast Asian Games opened in Laos capital Vientiane on Wednesday with powerhouse Thailand eyeing another gold rush.
Athletes from 11 nations are competing in 28 disciplines at the 10-day biennial showpiece with track and field under way on Sunday.
As well as headline events such as football, athletics, and swimming, the Games feature lesser-known sports including the martial arts karate-do and Muay Thai, and sepak takraw.
Laos themselves have set their sights on a successful Games, eyeing 25 gold medals, but the pattern of the hosts winning the event, which has been the case since 2001 in Malaysia, is sure to be broken this time.
The SEA Games participants are Brunei, Cambodia, Timor Leste, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore.
Courtesy from Brunei Times