South Africa and Uganda set up all-African battle for fifth place at the Netball World Cup

Friday, 4 August 2023: Uganda beat Malawi and South Africa got the better of Tonga in their Netball World Cup 2023 playoff matches at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Friday. That means the She Cranes and Proteas will play off for fifth place on Sunday, while Malawi will take on Tonga to decide seventh and eighth.

UGANDA 57-46 MALAWI 

Uganda recorded their first victory ever over Malawi at a Netball World Cup when they defeated their opponents 57-46 at the tournament in Cape Town on Friday.

With the win, the She Cranes advanced to Sunday’s fifth-place playoff which means, regardless of the result, they will achieve their highest placing at a World Cup. Their previous highest placing in their three other tournament appearances was seventh place in 2019 in Liverpool.  

Despite an initial four-goal lead by Uganda and pressure from the She Cranes, the Malawi Queens started playing with more confidence with some well-executed moves and drives down court. Goal attack Mwai Kumwenda commanded the circle, keeping her space well to take her team to within one goal. Goal shooter Joyce Mvula scored the equalising goal in the last minute of the first quarter and landed another one soon after to put Malawi one up. Uganda got one back, and the score reached 14-all.  

At the start of the second quarter, Mvula landed two goals in quick succession to hand Malawi the lead again. It wasn’t to last though as the She Cranes overtook them once again.  

It was a very physical encounter with the style of play typical of African netball and with players running hard at the ball. Uganda coach Fred Mugerwa was up and out of his seat at the side of the court throughout the match, shouting instructions and pointing to where he wanted his players to move.  

After initially struggling to keep away from Malawi goalkeeper Loreen Ngwira, Uganda goal shooter Mary Cholhok sank four goals on the trot to give her team a 28-23 lead at halftime.  

Uganda had the lion’s share of possession in the second quarter with 64 per cent and continued on the same trajectory in the third quarter, continuing to dominate Malawi in the third. This despite the efforts from the Malawi mid-court, led by centre Takondwa Lwazi, to feed the ball through to their goal circle.  

In the latter stages of the penultimate quarter, Malawi goal defence Towera Vinkhumbo received a warning from the umpire. The next misstep from her would have meant expulsion from the game for two minutes.  

Uganda enjoyed a healthy 43-35 lead heading into the final 15 minutes. The She Cranes kept the distance between themselves and the Queens, not allowing their opponents to get any grip on the match. 

With five minutes remaining, Uganda were 10 points clear and made certain of advancing to play for the fifth/sixth position on Sunday.  

Uganda coach Fred Mugerwa said the players panicked a bit in the first quarter and realised what was at stake.  

“The game was a bit tough and I told the girls to go out and fight. We wanted to win and that’s exactly what we did.” 

Malawi coach Sam Kanyenda reckoned: “We need to go back to the drawing board and from the result here see how best we can go forward. We believe we’ve got enough talent that can take us there and we’ve got to see how best we can adapt our strategy to take us where we want to be.” 

SCORES: 

Q1:14-14 

Q2: 28-23 (14-9) 

Q3: 43-35 (15-12) 

Q4: 57-46 (14-11) 

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Shadiah Nassanga (Uganda)  

SOUTH AFRICA 72 – 46 TONGA

Hosts South Africa took on Tonga on Friday in the battle to determine who will meet Uganda in the playoff for fifth place at the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town.

South Africa’s Rugby World Cup-winning captain, Siya Kolisi, was among the vocal home crowd cheering for their side and willing them to a 72-46 victory.

The opening quarter was a tight one, with the teams remaining neck and neck throughout. The Proteas were turning plenty of ball, but their shooters were struggling to settle in the circle. Ine-Mari Venter converted only five of her nine shots before being replaced by Elmeré van der Berg towards the end of the period. Even the usually reliable Nichole Taljaard finished the first quarter with a 67 per cent shooting average at goal attack, although she improved that considerably in the rest of the match.

At the other end, former Silver Ferns star Cat Tuivaiti was shooting at 100 per cent at goal shooter, as was her goal attack Marie Hansen, meaning the Tongan Tala kept up with the Proteas to reach the first quarter break level on 12-12.

It was a different story in the second quarter, however, as Van der Berg made sure the South Africans’ efforts on defence were rewarded. The young goal shooter fired in 14 of her 14 attempts while Taljaard also settled to slot in all of her efforts. Tonga brought on veteran former Australian Diamond Mo’onia Gerrard at goalkeeper 12 minutes into the second quarter to try and stem the flow, but she couldn’t prevent the South Africans from taking a seven-goal lead into halftime.

The South Africans continued to build on that momentum in the third quarter, moving the ball down the court with ease and easily finding Van der Berg in the circle. That saw them extending their lead to 11 goals by the final break.

Having had a significant lead against Uganda whittled down in the final period a day earlier, the Proteas would have been determined not to allow a repeat scenario against Tonga. They did that in some style. Even with South African coach Norma Plummer bringing on Khanyisa Chawane, Owethu Ngubane, Shadine van der Merwe and Nicola Smith as late replacements, the Proteas continued to storm ahead, winning the quarter by 25 goals to 10 and securing their place in Sunday’s fifth-place playoff with a 72-46 victory.

Speaking after the match, Proteas captain Bongi Msomi said” “Firstly I want to say I’m really proud of the team. Coming here we only had one loss to Jamaica… we drew against New Zealand and we actually just can’t have a semifinal based on goal difference and I think that, we can be proud of.

“We had a chat yesterday and I’m quite pleased to see that the girls could bounce back from that disappointment, because it was quite disappointing, and come here today and really just want to play what we called our semifinal. We have a ‘final’ against Uganda on Sunday.

“They’re a really good side and they actually gave it to us when we played yesterday so we’re looking forward to another battle. You can’t really shy away from the fact that we’re ranked fifth. We want to finish at least fifth at this stage… I’m really still proud of the girls. I thought there was some great netball being played by the Spar Proteas and to see that the youngsters are coming through, really playing good netball. That is something we can take forward and be proud of what is happening in netball in South Africa.”

Tonga wing attack Salote Taufa said it is a dream come true to play out for seventh spot in Tonga’s second appearance at a Netball World Cup.

“We are all just taking it in as it comes. We are a little nation trying to put our country on the map and shake things up a bit. And I think we definitely did that. We look beyond it being a game of netball, we are a family and we bring that into our game.”

SCORES

Q1:12-12

Q2: 30-23 (18-11)

Q3: 47-36 (17-13)

Q4: 72-46 (25-10)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Elmeré van der Berg (South Africa)