A historic weekend could be on the cards for the Proteas as they look to claim two of the biggest scalps in world netball when they face New Zealand and England over the next four days.
South Africa will fancy their chances of claiming their first victory over New Zealand since 1995 when the two teams cross swords in Johannesburg tonight. The Proteas shocked New Zealand 59-57 at the 1995 World Netball Championships to earn a place in the final, where the lost to Australia.
The home side will be bullish about their chances after coming within four points of upsetting Australia on the England leg of the Netball Quad Series last weekend. The 54-50 defeat to the defending world champions was the smallest margin of defeat for SA against Australia.
Former Australian mentor and Proteas coach, Norma Plummer, hopes an upset is on the cards.
“We are always looking for scalps, there is not a coach that goes out looking for second best but to be honest we took Australia all the way,” Plummer said yesterday (Wednesday). "They (Australia) have that X-factor of how to finish off and that is what they (the Proteas) have to learn and that is what we are working hard on.”
The South Africans have been on an upward trajectory over the last year, beating England for the first time since 2013 in their final Quad Series match in New Zealand in September. They have also narrowly lost to New Zealand.
Asked whether SA’s meteoric rise over the last year or so raised the hopes of defeating New Zealand, Proteas captain Bongi Msomi said that winning was not the main driving force.
“Norma mentioned that the win will come but we just need to learn how to finish off and it will come,” Msomi said.
“The score will sort itself out when you are doing a great job on the court and we obviously want to give this woman (Plummer) the win, we hope it is (today).”
Plummer said her team’s performance against Australia came as somewhat of a surprise as they lacked sufficient time to prepare for the encounter.
“I was actually blown away with their performance because it did worry me because most of the girls trained on their own and there was no netball going on here, so they really had to do their own work,” Plummer said.