Sydney - Just days after
leapfrogging Malawi into fifth place on the world rankings, the South African netball team went down 58-51 to the Malawi Queens in their
opening match at the Netball World Cup at Olympic Park in Sydney on Friday.
match was billed as an opening day blockbuster and the tightly fought contest didn’t disappoint.
Malawi dominated the
match from the start, when they turned over the Proteas’ opening centre pass to
score the first goal. The Proteas appeared tentative in the early stages of the
match, and Malawi took advantage.
Mwayi Kumwende, who has been out of the team for some time, celebrated her
return to the side with an outstanding match. She missed only three
attempts out of 43, and the South African defenders Karla Mostert and Adele
Niemand had their work cut out for them.
At the end of the
first quarter, Malawi were two goals ahead, and they extended this to a five
goal advantage by halftime, leading South Africa 27-22.
The Proteas came out
with all guns blazing in the third quarter, which was the only one they won,
outscoring Malawi by 15 goals to 14. They drew level with the Queens
midway through the quarter, but Malawi pulled away again, and finished it 41-37
The Proteas fought
hard throughout the match, achieving a number of turnovers, but too often their
hard work went unrewarded, as they lost the ball and the momentum again. The
minutes ticked by, and the South Africans ran out of time to make up the
“We gave it away a
lot with our feeds around the circle,” said coach Norma Plummer.
“We had opportunities
and we didn’t take them. I would say we let ourselves down.
“But there were some
positives. Phumza (Maweni) came on (as goalkeeper) and she had a good game
against one of the best shooters in the world. Considering she has only
played netball for two years, she was outstanding.”
“We wanted a better
start to the World Cup,” said centre Erin Burger, who is playing in her third
“But we had some good
moments, and we will take them through to our next match. We need more
consistency, and we must not fall back into old habits.
“We are disappointed
and a bit frustrated after losing this match, but it will be heads up tomorrow
when we play our next match. We’re not going to let this defeat stop
On Saturday, South
Africa will take on Singapore in their second match at 09:20
South African time.
The Proteas' Australian coach Norma
Plummer will come up against her former Silver Ferns rival Ruth Aitken.
Plummer led her Australian team to gold over Aitkens' New Zealand in the last
World Cup final in Singapore in 2011.
“Ruth has done some
good work in improving Singapore since she took charge but she has been working
on the basics rather than the advanced tactical issues. It going to be good
going head to head with Ruth after all these years in very different circumstances”