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SA's semi dreams shattered

2011-07-04 09:04
Singapore - South Africa came down to earth with a bang on Monday when the SPAR South African team lost heavily to Jamaica in their opening match of the World Netball Championships at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Jamaica won the match 72-45, after leading 34-20 at halftime.

The Proteas held their own in the first quarter, even briefly taking the lead after 10 minutes. At the end of the quarter, Jamaica led 15-11.

Jamaica stormed ahead in the second quarter, and it was probably here that the match was lost, as they outscored South Africa by 19 goals to nine. South Africa fought back strongly in the third. 

Claudia Basson replaced Chrisna Bootha as goal shooter, and her accuracy was a major factor in South Africa’s good performance in the second half. Bootha appeared to be afflicted by nerves, and missed a number of shots at goal, whereas Basson was successful with 12 out of 14 in the third quarter, and 11 out of 12 in the fourth. 

Jamaica, who recently drew a three-Test series against second-ranked Australia, and who beat third-ranked England 2-1, were impressive throughout, with goal shooters Romelda Aiken and Jhaniele Fowler using their superior height to good effect. 

The defeat makes South Africa’s progress in the tournament more difficult.  The team finishing second in Pool C will meet the winner of Pool B in the quarterfinals – and that will almost certainly be world number one New Zealand.

Head coach Elize Kotze was visibly disappointed, but praised her team for the way they fought back in the second half. “We can’t make excuses.  We were beaten by a better team. I think we need to play the top four teams on a more regular basis to get used to playing at that level,” she said.

Kotze said the players would have to regroup before their second match, against hosts Singapore, on Tuesday. “We’ll have a hard training session and try to remedy some of our mistakes,” she said. “We have to beat Singapore to make sure we have a chance of getting through to the quarterfinals,” she said.  “We know Singapore – we played them recently. We’ll use different strategies and different combinations for that game.”

Goal defence Leigh-Ann Zackey said playing the host nation was always a privilege. “We know that there will be a lot of support for them, and we always enjoy playing in front of a crowd,” she said. “We hope that we will play well enough to win the crowd over.”

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