Sri Lanka and Singapore booked their places at the 2023 Netball World Cup after coming through the qualifying process at the Asian Netball Championships. This took the number of countries who have earned their ticket to Cape Town next July to 12. There are still four more places up for grabs.

In the Asian final in Singapore, the hosts went down 63-53 to Sri Lanka at the OCBC Arena. It was therefore a second straight runners-up finish for three-time champions Singapore, which last won the title back in 2014.

It was therefore a second straight runners-up finish for three-time champions Singapore, which last won the title back in 2014.

Singapore head coach Annette Bishop remained upbeat after the game, praising her charges for never giving up all match, and for putting up consistent performances throughout the nine-day competition.

“For such a young team, I’m very proud of them,” she said after the final. “They’ve taken on some experienced teams here, and fought all the way until the final whistle.

“The past two-and-a-half years with the pandemic have been hard, without much competition to test the team. But I’ve seen them grown as a team so fast at this competition, and they’ve still got a lot to learn.”

Buoyed by a noisy 2 500-strong home crowd at the full-house arena, Singapore jumped out of the blocks against the slow-to-settle Sri Lankans, racing out to a 9-4 lead with stellar defence and accurate shooting, before closing the first quarter with a 19-13 advantage.

However, once Sri Lanka settled down, they began to chip away the hosts’ lead, as Sivalingam’s towering presence enabled them to repeatedly lob the ball towards the 44-year-old veteran, who was virtually automatic in scoring.

Despite leading 30-27 going into the half-time break, Singapore looked a step slower in the third quarter as Sri Lanka seized the initiative with some tough defence of their own. Despite rotating their players, Singapore were unable to stem the rising tide of the Sri Lankans, falling in to a 38-46 hole after three quarters.

While they tried mounting a comeback early in the fourth quarter, Sri Lanka held firm to successfully defend their title.

Malaysia claimed third spot for the second straight edition, after defeating Hong Kong 54-42 in the third-fourth-placing match.

The 12 countries to have qualified for the 2023 NWC so far are: South Africa, Australia, England, Fiji, Jamaica, Malawi, New Zealand, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tonga, Uganda and Zimbabwe.