South Africa defeated Namibia 67-26 in the first of the quarterfinal matches at the World University Netball Championship in Cape Town on Thursday. Namibia started well and looked like they would pose more of a challenge to the South African team, who had breezed past Zimbabwe and the United States in their last two games.
Matching each other goal for goal early on, at 3-3 the home side stepped up a gear and left their opponents in their wake, closing out the first quarter at 17-3. The SA students proved too strong for Namibia and continued to increase their tally to 35-9 at the half-time break.
Both sides fought hard in the final two quarters, but South Africa suffered a setback when their centre, Bongi Msomi, hobbled off the court in the third quarter. With their reserve centre also injured, it was up to Marie Geel to step into the pivotal role, which she did admirably.
“Bongi’s injury is not serious, she just took a hard knock to her thigh, but she’s fine to play in the next game,” coach Dorette Badenhorst said afterwards. “Namibia are always a strong team and we knew we would have a challenge on our hands. “In the end, it wasn’t as challenging as I thought it would be but we still needed to push the players and I thought we played brilliantly.
“I managed to give all the girls a chance, but I still feel if something isn’t going well on court, we still struggle to adapt quickly enough. “We struggled in the circle and I thought we needed to adapt a little bit better, but I thought it was a great game.”
Namibian coach Manuel Tjivera was happy with the way his players faced their formidable opposition and described the match as “a cracker”. “I am quite pleased with today’s game and it all went according to plan,” Tjivera said.
“We are using this tournament to finalise our preparations for the Cucsa (Confederation of University and College Sports Associations) Games so it worked out well. ”I tried out more defensive combinations to evaluate the strength of the girls and we managed to penetrate South Africa’s defence. “At times they had to force some balls so it really worked well for us.”
South Africa meet Jamaica in the semi-finals on Friday and Badenhorst admitted they were not used to the Jamaican side’s style of play. “Jamaica is a very physical team and we will really work hard to go full out from the beginning against them,” Badenhorst said.
“We will go back today, analyse all their games and be prepared on court. “It will be a test of character as we’re not used to such a physical competition, so it is going to be a challenge to me as a coach as well.”
The SA Students’ March to the Semi-Final: 2 Jul: SA 57-47 Ireland 3 Jul: SA 110-12 Zimbabwe 4 Jul: SA 93-14 USA 5 Jul: SA 67-26 Namibia