Francis salutes Sunshine Girls on South Africa win


Francis salutes Sunshine Girls on South Africa win

...Jamaicans brace for World champions New Zealand in Netball Nations Cup

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

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With one tick in the win column for the Vitality Netball Nations Cup so far, Sunshine Girls Head Coach Connie Francis believes with continued commitment her team will remain formidable for the duration of the tournament.

The number four-ranked Jamaicans, who bettered fifth-ranked South Africa 59-54 in Nottingham, England on Sunday, are now bracing for an even tougher contest against World champions and number two-ranked New Zealand, who steamrolled the England Roses 64-48.

Francis, while praising her Sunshine Girls for a stellar performance in the opening game, is already plotting her approach for tomorrow's encounter against the Silver Ferns.

“I know the New Zealand game will be even harder, but we are up to the task and the girls are very upbeat and they have shown their commitment on court – which I appreciate. So going forward, we will be going through all our tactical work as a team and doing all our video analysis.

“We know that they are the World champions and the inform team and we know that they are very fast and they move the ball very quickly. So our game will not really be to match their speed but to cut it,” Francis told the Jamaica Observer from the team's base in England yesterday.

Francis believes the manner in which her Sunshine Girls defeated South Africa, on their first outing since a disappointing showing at last year's Netball World Cup, speaks volumes of their true potential.

The Sunshine Girls dominated proceedings against the SPAR Proteas from start to finish, registering quarterly scores of 17-12, 33-28 and 49-37 to secure their 13th win against the opponents in 16 encounters.

With the victory being a table turner for the Jamaicans, who avenged a 52-55 defeat to the South Africans in that failed World Cup campaign, Francis pointed out that their aim for this four-nation Netball Cup is to send a message to the doubters.

“We wanted to start with a win and that's what we did. the girls said that they weren't going to let themselves down and they went out there and really put on a good show and it was a really positive start. We are sending a message out to the rest of the world that we are capable of winning,” Francis shared.

“Although I think that we need to tighten it up a little better at times, I wouldn't say we are lacking in any area. I thought that we just got impatient at times and as a result we made a few errors, but those are things that can be fixed, so I am not too worried about that,” she noted, prior to departing for a training session.

Sunshine Girls captain Jhaniele Fowler led from the front with another superb display of her shooting ability, sinking 46 goals from 47 attempts. Goal attack Shanice Beckford scored 12 from 14 attempts, with Shimona Nelson scoring the other goal.

Vice-captain Nicole Dixon was voted the MVP of the match in a game where Francis made a number of changes at the back end with the Sunshine Girls holding a 10-goal lead.

“We needed to win, yes, but we had a lead and we had some girls sitting on the bench and as a coach, I don't think that they should have worked so hard and don't get a chance to go out and play,” Francis explained in reference to the changes.

She continued: “We had some goals to give up and although we do encourage them to keep the score board ticking over, it was about them getting an opportunity and they enjoyed themselves. This is a team effort and all the girls are putting in the work.

“So good or bad on court, I appreciate all the effort that they are putting out. Nobody expects them to be flawless; the most important thing is that they give their best and I think they are currently doing that. so win, lose or draw I stand united with my players.”

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