Sportsmanship shines through for Singapore's CP footballers as they make semis

A strong performance from Team Singapore's cerebral palsy (CP) footballers saw them overcome Cambodia 4-0 on Wednesday and qualify for the semi-finals of the 9th ASEAN Para Games in Kuala Lumpur.

But it was the CP Lions' spirit of sportsmanship that shone through during the game, as they were often seen helping the Cambodians to their feet during the numerous injury stoppages. 

The CP Lions finished second in their group and will face Indonesia in the semi-finals of the tournament on Thursday. 

We wanted them to enjoy football and not discourage them from playing

- Singapore skipper Muhammad Mubarak

"The most important thing was that we gave everybody a chance to play," said Singapore coach Mohamed Zainudeen. "As a whole, I'm very happy." 

A 12th minute goal from Abdul Mahdi got Singapore off to a good start. 

They then added to their tally four minutes later, as Magesvaran Sangily, one of the four debutants who featured on Wednesday, collected the ball in front of the halfway line and sent a sweet left-foot shot over the Cambodia keeper. 

The Singaporeans continued to dominate possession, and pressed high into their opponent's half, forcing them into errors. 

Singapore had the majority of possession and controlled the game

The second half was a more stop-start affair punctuated by a number of injuries to the Cambodian players. 

Mahdi then got his second of the game in the 51st minute, firing low into the bottom corner to make the result certain for Singapore.

Skipper Muhammad Mubarak then wrapped up proceedings as he came off the bench to net his third of the tournament, drilling a fierce shot from outside the area in stoppage time. 

While Mubarak was happy with the result, he was also pleased with the way his side conducted itself on the pitch. 

The warm embraces after the game were a testament to the mutual respect between the teams. 

"I feel very proud of my team," said Mubarak. 

"We've been at that stage where Cambodia is before, where we were also just starting off. 

"We wanted them to enjoy football and not discourage them from playing."

Story and photos used with the permission of Team Singapore. 

For more coverage of the 29th ASEAN Para Games, go to https://www.myactivesg.com/team-singapore/read.