The SPAR South African netball team and their long-standing rivals, Malawi, have been drawn in separate pools at the African Netball Championships in Blantyre, Malawi, next week.
Click to read the SPAR SA Squad announcement on gsport
Malawi are in Pool 1, with Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, while South Africa are joined in Pool 2 by Namibia, Swaziland and Uganda.
The tournament begins on Monday, with an opening ceremony followed by the match between hosts Malawi and neighbours Zimbabwe.
South Africa play Namibia on Tuesday morning, Swaziland on Wednesday afternoon, and they round up the Pool section of the tournament when they take on Uganda on Thursday evening.
Malawi and South Africa, the strongest teams in the tournament, are expected to cruise through the pool matches and the semi-finals and meet in the final at two o’clock on Friday afternoon.
Malawi have long been South Africa’s nemesis, although the South Africans have had the upper hand in recent encounters.
National coach Elize Kotze believes the SPAR Proteas are well-prepared for the championships and should return home with the title. Despite the set-back of losing a player, as Nontle Gwavu had to pull out last minute due to injury, the coach is optimistic.
“Their experience in the Quad Series against Australia, New Zealand and England last year should prove invaluable,” she said. “They learnt so much about decision-making and thinking on their feet,” she said.
“We have a very mature and experienced team, and there is great understanding among the players. African teams are often very physical and unpredictable, but we are ready for them.”
2013 African Netball Championships starting on Tuesday 25 June, in Blantyre, Malawi: Pool 1: Zambia Zimbabwe Botswana Pool 2: South Africa Namibia Swaziland Uganda. South Africa Pool 2 Tests at the 2013 African Netball Championships: Tuesday: South Africa vs Namibia Wednesday: South Africa vs Swaziland Thursday: South Africa vs Uganda The SPAR National Netball team for the African Championships in Malawi: Tsakane Mbewe Maryka Holtzhausen (captain) Yolandi Saalmans Bongiwe Msomi (vice-captain) Erin Burger Nokuthula Qegu Precious Mthebu Karla Mostert Adele Niemand Nontle Gwavu (Withdrawn for injury) Colleen Ferreira Vanes-Mari du Toit
(With editing by gsport)