The Proteas, Netball South Africa and all South African supporters in Liverpool gathered together on Mandela Day to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela. Photo: Reg Caldecott

LIVERPOOL – It was most fitting that on the eve of Mandela Day, the South Africa scored 67 goals in defeating Uganda in their crucial Netball World Cup game on Wednesday night in Liverpool, England.

And the team’s final goal tally of 67 goals was very much the target as South Africa sent their African counterparts packing 67-40 to earn a spot in Saturday’s semi-finals.

It’s the first time South Africa have ever reached a netball World Cup semi-final.

“We were hoping to play Uganda on Mandela Day (Thursday), but the World Cup order of play scheduled the game for Wednesday evening,” said SA captain Bongi Msomi.

“So, we said that seeing Madiba has fought for social justice for 67 years, we were going to target 67 goals as our winning score, one goal for each of those 67 years.

“We did just that and on this Mandela Day, we are inspired to do our very best over the weekend now that we have made the semi-finals.”

Karla Pretorius, the SA vice-captain agreed. “Nelson Mandela remains such an inspiration to not only all of South Africa, but the world.

“We as South African netball players know that Nelson Mandela used sport as an important tool in uniting our country and making it a true ‘Rainbow Nation’.

“As we remain unbeaten at this Netball World Cup, we are inspired to do even better as we know that our success is inspiring the nation back home, we are feeling the love coming from back home.

“We are sure that Nelson Mandela would be so proud of our efforts… so to him, we give this glory.”

The Proteas, Netball South Africa and all South African supporters in Liverpool gathered together on Mandela Day to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela and chanted “Viva Madiba Viva! Viva Nelson Mandela Viva! Viva Mandela Day Viva!”

A loyal netball fan, Karel Prinsloo who had travelled all the way from Kimberley to support the Proteas in Liverpool, was in awe after being pictured with his favourite sporting team on Mandela Day.

“Madiba is such a great inspiration and on his special day, the Spar Proteas took time out of their schedule to join us fans and take a group picture and honour Madiba. This is so special, and I feel that today Madiba’s legacy will inspire the team to win a medal at the Netball World Cup.”

South Africa face England in their final group preliminary game on Thursday night (9pm SA time).

Depending on the outcome of the game against England, South Africa will know who their semi-final opponents on Saturday will be.

The Proteas are joined by hosts England, Australia and New Zealand in the semi-finals.

African News Agency (ANA)