South Africa’s hopes of making it to the 2023 Netball World Cup semi-final were dashed on Thursday evening despite their 52-50 victory against Uganda at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
The Proteas went into the match needing to secure an unlikely victory margin of more than 64 goals and keep their opponents from scoring more than 20 to make it into the last four.
South African Goal attack, Ine-Mari Venter, had a better start compared to Wednesday’s match against New Zealand, which ended in a 48-48 draw. She was successful with all her attempts, while Uganda struggled with short passes around their own goal circle.
The She Crane’s star shooter, Mary Cholhok, found it challenging against South Africa’s Phumza Maweni. The Protea defender had Cholhok properly boxed in with little room to stamp her authority.
South Africa’s quick ball movement across the court troubled the East Africans, preventing them from executing their attacking style effectively. During the second quarter, South Africa extended their lead to 10 goals, with Maweni continuing to disrupt Cholhok.
Uganda made their first substitutions 10 minutes before halftime, but that didn’t have any effect as the South Africans went into the break 33-19 in front.
The third quarter was entirely dominated by Uganda, as they outscored South Africa by nine goals (17-8), finding their rhythm and quickly narrowing the gap.
In the final quarter, Uganda came out onto the court clearly intent on snatching the victory away from the hosts. And they almost did. Having been 12 goals down at one point, they managed to equalise the score at 42-all within four minutes.
The match became physical at times, something Uganda coach Fred Mugerwa commented on afterwards. A crucial intercept under the Uganda goal post by goal defence Nicola Smith turned the ball back to the South African goal circle and the Proteas managed to secure a 52-50 win.
Proteas captain, Bongi Msomi, said her side went into the game against Uganda to give it their all, in an attempt to reach the semifinals.
“At halftime it felt like we still had a chance. You always have a chance until you don’t have. At this stage it’s disappointing. We have to focus on keeping our ranking because Uganda is really good. If we are going to come up against them again, they are going to come hard.”
Mugerwa said they underestimated the way the match would play out.
“It was a bit physical and that’s why we were trailing by 14 goals at halftime. When we went to the dressing room I told the girls to be a bit harder and not lose hope. We have to fight for the country. And we recovered, it is unfortunate that we couldn’t take it.”
South Africa will face Tonga on Friday night at 6pm, while Uganda face Malawi at 4pm. Should both teams win, they will face off once again in a battle for 5th place at the tournament.
Saturday’s semifinals will see England take on defending champions and record champions Australia will face Jamaica.
Written by: Ntsako Mukhari