Two of South Africa’s most experienced players return to the SPAR national netball team for the Tri-nations series against England and Trinidad and Tobago in Port Elizabeth next week.
Goal shooter Chrisna Bootha, and centre court player Zanele Mdodana were included in the squad announced by Netball South Africa (NSA) after missing the recent tour of England because of injury.
England won the three-Test series 3-0, but head coach Elize Kotze said she believed her team was closing the gap and the addition of the two experienced players would bring the SPAR Proteas within reach of the world number three team. “Chrisna offers us more variety in the goal circle, which is a luxury we didn’t have in England,” said Kotze.
“She had a fantastic training camp last weekend, and you could see she was back to her best. She offers us the option of switching between the very tall, but more static Melissa Myburgh, and Chrisna’s more mobile style of play.”
Kotze said the return of Mdodana was also very significant. “She has such a presence, both on and off the field, and she makes a big difference to the team. She is playing very confidently.”
Aneret Viljoen has also returned to the team. “It is good to have Aneret back, especially as Vanes-Mari du Toit is injured. She combines very well with Adele Niemand in defence.”
Dr Eljse Jordaan has been brought onto the management team to assist Kotze in coaching on specialist attack. “It is a great asset to have Elsje as a part of the management team,” said President of Netball South Africa, Mimi Mthethwa, “We are sure that she will make a positive contribution to our attacking style of play.”
Kotze said it was a luxury having played England less than three weeks before the start of the Tri-nations, which will be played at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth from October 22-25.
“The players realised during that tour that the England players were just ordinary human beings, and although we lost all three matches, we have brought the goal difference down from 30 or 40 to 11 and 12 in two matches, and 18 in the other.
“The players are beginning to realise just what they are capable of and they will not be over-awed.”
The Tri-nations tournament will be followed by the Diamond Challenge against Zambia and Zimbabwe, which will also be played in Port Elizabeth from October 27-30. A different team will be selected for that, as many of the Proteas are students who are involved in university examinations.
SPAR national netball team for Tri-Nations tournament: Shooters – Chrisna Bootha Melissa Myburgh Maryka Holtzhausen Lindie Lombard Centre court – Simnikiwe Mdaka Bongiwe Msomi Zanele Mdodana Precious Mthembu Defenders – Karla Mostert Aneret Viljoen Nontle Gwavu Adele Niemand
(With editing by gsport)