BIRMINGHAM, England — Sunshine Girls head coach Connie Francis says that Jamaica's netballers are looking forward to today's group decider against top-ranked Australia at the Commonwealth Games, adding that the team is confident of springing a surprise, one that she believes will boost their top-two aspirations in Birmingham.
Jamaica and Australia have both advanced to the semi-finals of the competition after winning all their matches up to this point but will meet to determine who tops Group A as the business end of the championships draws closer.
"It's the first time I am facing Australia in some time as the coach of this team. I know that the girls are very hungry and I think that it is important for the growth of our netball to show that we can compete with the best in the world," Francis told the Jamaica Observer ahead of the 9:00 am opening pass at what is sure to be an electric atmosphere at the NEC Arena as two of the world's best collide.
"They are a very good, solid team that has been playing very consistent netball. They have not dropped a quarter since the tournament started and they are a very confident team, but so is our team. We are very confident and we are looking forward to showcasing good, quality netball," said Francis.
"A confident showing against this team — and I think that we can possibly surprise them but if and when we beat Australia later on, I think that for our netball we'll feel very proud to see all the hard work come through in a positive light. We're very confident we can reach the final and this would just boost our game more and the girls will believe that this is really a championship opportunity for us. So beating Australia would be a real positive to take into the semi-finals and possibly the final," she added.
Francis added that the Jamaicans will need to protect the ball and control the tempo and pointed to the presence of Australian-based defenders in the team and an Australian defence coach, as pluses for the Sunshine Girls.
"It is important that we control the tempo of the game because we know that they are very fast and they will dictate the pace and because the styles are two different types of style; one plays a slower game than the other and they shoot lights out. But the good thing is that we have Australian-based defenders who are very familiar with them… that will help to possibly contain them, especially their shooters," Francis said.
— Andre Lowe