South Africa has one last chance to qualify for the semi-finals of the Netball World Cup in Sydney when it meets England in their final qualifying match on Friday afternoon. The Proteas have played two Pool F matches so far, beating Wales on Tuesday and losing to Australia on Wednesday. The Australian Diamonds booked their final four berth with victory over England and the South Africans.
Norma Plummer’s charges froze at the start of their match against Australia, allowing the Diamonds to score 11 goals before they were able to get on the scoreboard, but they are expected to get off to a better start against the world number three team. Coach Plummer says preparations for the crucial match would be the same as for any other match: ‘I will tell them they have nothing to lose, and just to focus on their own game. What happened against Australia was they were overwhelmed by the realisation that they were playing the world number one team, and they froze. They will be able to look at the videos of the match and see what they did right and what they did wrong. You learn more from defeats than from wins, and I don’t think they will make the same mistakes again. If we didn’t learn anything from the match against Australia, that would be sad. But we’ll cut it up and let them have a look at things and get them to smarten up. When you’re under pressure, especially when you haven’t been there before, it’s a bit hard. We’ve got a few players who are playing their first World Championship and probably the first time against Australia, so it is understandable. But I don’t think they will freeze again.’
Captain Maryka Holtzhausen says: ‘We have learned a lot from losing to Australia. One of the things were learned was that we can’t afford to play the overhead ball, because we lose it too often, so we will focus on short, sharp passes. We will try to focus on our game plan right from the start when we play against England, and will not fall back into our old ways.’ If they start the match against England as they ended against Australia, South Africa are in with a fighting chance of qualifying for the semifinals for the first time since 1995. In the first half of their match against Australia, the Proteas battled to maintain possession, as the Diamonds easily intercepted their long, looping passes.
By half-time, Australia were 26 goals ahead, but in the second half, South Africa reduced the margin to 10 goals, and in the final quarter, achieved more intercepts and turnovers than the Diamonds. In the final quarter, they held Australia to just 12 goals, scoring 10 of their own.
If they beat England, they go through to the semi-finals.
Photo credit: Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015