Sunshine Girls brace for South Africa challenge

BY SANJAY MYERS
Senior staff reporter
myerss@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, July 14, 2019

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LIVERPOOL, England — Stage one of the preliminaries ends today with a tantalising clash between Group C front-runners Jamaica and South Africa inside M&S Bank Arena.

Match time is 5:00 pm (11:00 am Jamaica time).

The two teams have started with consecutive wins, brushing aside both Fiji and Trinidad and Tobago.

Jhaniele Fowler, captain of the number two-ranked Sunshine Girls, stressed the importance of beating South Africa and taking charge of the group.

“It's very important [to win] because we want to come out of this group on top. When we are on top we can better dictate what we get at the second stage,” she told the Jamaica Observer after yesterday's 68-43 win over Trinidad and Tobago.

The Jamaicans won the bronze medal in 2003 and 2007, but have never been to the gold medal match at the World Cup. They claimed the fourth spot in 2011 and 2015.

South Africa, rated fifth in the world, won silver in 1995 — their best-ever global achievement — but have finished outside of the medals since.

“South Africa, I'm sure, is going to come out hard for us but we are going to go out even harder.

“We have been watching their games — we watch games for everyone we are going to play. We have to make sure that we are watching players we are coming up against so we know what we are to do,” said the Sunshine Girls skipper.

Looking back on the slow start they had against Trinidad and Tobago before pulling away to victory, Fowler is certain there will not be a repeat.

“We are going to make sure that our start is match better than today because South Africa are a good team. The first quarter is going to be as important as every other quarter.”

She noted that complacency might have set in against their Caribbean rivals, but she insisted the Sunshine Girls can turn up the tempo when they have to.

“Sometimes we do [relax] when we think we have an easier team to play, but we know when to put our foot on the pedal.

“It was a conscious effort [to improve our play against T&T] because we realised we were very flat in the first quarter, so we had to step it up and get a big lead,” she told the Observer.

South Africa captain Bongiwe Msomi said her players are not short of confidence going into the clash against higher-ranked opponents.

“We can't have fear, no. We've been playing lots of netball. Obviously, it's quite serious coming up against a top-three side in the world.

“But I think it's just about us getting on court as a team and really giving some performances. This is what we came here for,” she told reporters.

At the end of stage one, teams will be placed in groups for a second round of action before placing is determined for the play-offs.

— Sanjay Myers


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