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On the final day of the 2023 Netball World Cup, South Africa faced off against Uganda in what is dubbed as the African final. Both teams failed to qualify for the semi finals two days ago and now facing off for a position 5 and 6.

South Africa is ranked 5th in the world, fist in Africa whilst Uganda are 6th in the world and second in Africa – more than anything SPAR Proteas would want to keep the status quo as is while Uganda would challenge that.

Norma Plummer started with a team that finished off against Tonga on Friday evening and it was the She Cranes that started like a house scoring four goals very quickly and South Africa struggled with converting their opportunities, it was only after five minutes that they managed to open their account.

SPAR Proteas struggled to get off the blocks however they finally found their feet and kept pushing – they managed to narrow the gap they had with Uganda to one goal even though they lost first quarter 11- 12.

The second quarter was no different from the first one – it was a very physical encounter and umpires kept super busy. Midcourt became almost a battle field as both teams went off at each – SPAR Proteas managed to recover and won the second quarter 12 – 11 to level the score 23 all.

When the two teams returned for third quarter, it was as physical as the other two quarters. South Africa battled to keep up with the physicality of the match and struggled to keep up with Uganda. At the end of the quarter, it was the She Cranes leading 16 – 14 taking the game to 37 -39

Izette Griesel had to be subbed due to a nosebleed in the last quarter. This was the lowest scoring by both teams only scoring 10 points apiece. Very crucial calls by the umpires almost broke the momentum of the game. Uganda wanted to make sure that they get their revenge against South Africa and repeat the scenes from Commonwealth Games last year – at the end of it all, it was Uganda that won the match 49 -47.

Speaking at the post match conference, captain Bongiwe Msomi said “it is obviously disappointing to lose against Uganda at home and at this stage – retaining our ranking is very important. We would have loved to finished better than what we did – I think there were a lot of nerves coming into this game and this was evident in how we started the game, as soon as we found our rhythm we kept going – it could have been better and we know it too.”

Uganda claimed bragging rights in the continent and will finish fifth at this year’s Netball World Cup while South Africa takes sixth place. This result will not impact Netball World rankings just as yet as South Africa will remain fifth in the world.

“No one takes to court to lose, we all walked in here with a clear mandate of winning this match. The support from the country has been great and we knew that a lot was at stake. We had planned on winning, unfortunately were not favourable to us -I am sad for the players because I know how badly they wanted to win today and finish on a high. The team can only get stronger and rebuild from here,” said Norma Plummer, SPAR Proteas Head Coach.

Plummer would not be drawn into whether she will carry on as Head Coach or not  – “There has been ongoing discussions about my future and I had hoped to have a meeting with the President (Cecilia Molokwane) and CEO (Blanche de la Guerre) yesterday but they were unavailable, I will take the team to Australia in October by they (Netball South Africa) need to get their things sorted and let us know. I am happy with either answer.”

“We are gutted by how everything went, this is not how we wanted to end. We have put in the work and understood what the assignment was. We are home so we wanted to do well. It is disappointing that we did not achieve that,” said SPAR Proteas Vice Captain Karla Pretorius.

Score Breakdown:

Q1 – SPAR Proteas 11 – 12 Uganda
Q2 – SPAR Proteas 12 – 11 Uganda
Q3 – SPAR Proteas 14 – 16 Uganda
Q4 – SPAR Proteas 10 – 10 Uganda

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Mary Cholhok (Uganda)

Photo by Stander Photpgraphy