In an exciting all-African showdown at the Netball World Cup, Uganda’s She Cranes emerged victorious over hosts South Africa, securing a fifth-place finish in the tournament. The match showcased the rising prowess of the Ugandan team, as they dethroned South Africa to become the top-ranked team in Africa.
The game began with Uganda showing their determination, taking an early four-goal lead before South Africa could register a score. Unforced errors from the jittery Proteas saw them struggling to catch up throughout the first period, with the hosts closing the gap to just one goal by the first break.
In the second quarter, South African coach Norma Plummer made strategic changes, but Uganda continued to challenge them relentlessly. The She Cranes displayed a hunger for victory, with their precise attack and solid defense putting pressure on the usually reliable Nichole Taljaard of South Africa.
The decisive third quarter saw Uganda take control, with Mary Cholhok and Irene Eyaru excelling in the shooting circle. The Ugandan defense successfully limited South Africa’s opportunities, leading to a tied score of 23-23 at halftime.
As the game progressed, the She Cranes held their lead heading into the final break. South Africa managed to level the score at 40-40, but they couldn’t push ahead. A crucial unforced error from the Proteas allowed Uganda to seize the advantage, ultimately securing a memorable 49-47 victory.
Ugandan coach Fred Mugerwa expressed his delight with his team’s performance, emphasizing the importance of starting strong and finishing with determination.
“The match went the way we wanted it to go. When we went into that match my last words to the players were that we shouldn’t make the mistakes we made in the first match we played against South Africa because we gave them a lot of respect and because of that they went ahead by many goals,” he said.
She Cranes captain Irene Eyaru echoed her coach’s sentiments, expressing pride in their victory over South Africa and showcasing Uganda as the best team in Africa. “On behalf of the team, I’m so, so proud because we have been looking for a way of beating South Africa right from the word go. We wanted to show the whole world that Uganda is the best team in Africa… we decided to play our hearts out on the court and if it means to die on the court, we would die,’ she said.
On the other side, South African coach Norma Plummer and captain Bongi Msomi acknowledged Uganda’s dominance and possession of the ball, admitting that they wasted too many opportunities. “We obviously wanted to win, it was very important to try and give it our best shot and maintain our ranking. As Norma said, we just gave away too many balls. Kudos to them, they played really well today. Disappointed obviously, I still need to go back and try and feel this, at this point, I don’t even know what to feel.”
Vice-captain Karla Pretorius also expressed disappointment, highlighting the need to capitalize on chances against formidable opponents like Uganda. “Just very disappointed with our result but it comes back to ourselves, we didn’t play the way were supposed to. They just put us under a lot of pressure and against a team like this, you don’t win a lot of balls and you need to capitalize on it, and we did not do that today. So it’s really disappointing, we really wanted that win.”
Q2: 23-23 (12-11)
Q3: 37-39 (14-16)
Q4: 47-49 (10-10)
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Mary Cholhok (Uganda)