Netball / 29 November 2019, 09:30am / ashfak mohamed
A dream 2019 has resulted in captain Bongi Msomi (right) calling on her team to become more consistent in the run-up to the 2023 World Cup on home soil. Photo: Courtney Africa/African News Agency/ANA Pictures
The Proteas netball team have sometimes battled to be competitive at major tournaments over the years, but a dream 2019 has resulted in captain Bongi Msomi calling on her team to become more consistent in the run-up to the 2023 World Cup on home soil.
South Africa lost by just two points to Australia in this year’s World Cup semi-final in Liverpool, and even beat England in January.
The Roses, though, got the better of the Proteas twice at the World Cup in Liverpool in July, which is why revenge may be on the minds of the local ladies in this weekend’s three-Test series at the Bellville Velodrome.
Msomi, speaking yesterday, appeared to be someone on a mission. She dismissed suggestions that her team were feeling any pressure as 2023 World Cup hosts to be victorious this weekend, and rather placed the emphasis on her side becoming serious title contenders in four years’ time.
“To be honest, we are over the pressure thing now. We’ve been doing really well in trying to step up from being amateur players, and fitting into professional processes,” the wing attack said.
“Now, rather than feeling the pressure, we get more excited about playing these games as we understand the bigger picture. We want to step out there and play against the top teams in the world, because that’s how we learnt, especially building up to the (2019) World Cup, which made us perform so well.
“This (series) for us, cannot be any sort of pressure, but as a team going out and performing well. I like the fact that at training, the girls are just excited. We’ve got a mixture of young girls coming up, and there might be some nerves going on, and it happens to us as seniors as well. It’s just about stepping on court and playing some great netball.”
Coach Dorette Badenhorst will have Phumza Maweni - who missed the African Cup with an ankle injury - back in defence against England.
But star player Karla Pretorius is on a break until the end of the year, and with Erin Burger and Maryka Holtzhausen having retired, Badenhorst will hope that the likes of Lenize Potgieter and Precious Mthembu can fill those gaps.
Badenhorst is also in her first major bilateral series as head coach, having taken over from the retired Norma Plummer for the African Cup, and is seeking a victory at all costs, while developing new talent as well.
“It’s great to keep on learning, but also bring a little bit of your style into the play, and it’s important that you don’t copy someone else. I believe in myself as a coach and I believe I can bring something to the team that’s maybe a little bit different here and there,” Badenhorst said.
“Winning the series will be our number one (goal). I think it will be important, but through that, you will see which players can cope under pressure and play at international level, especially the new ones coming in.”