18 July 2019, Liverpool – On Saturday morning at noon South African time the SPAR Proteas will make history. South Africa take on mighty Australia in the first semi-final of the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup at the M&S Arena in Liverpool.
It’s the first time in netball history that South Africa have qualified for the semi-final of a Netball World Cup. A win will put the SPAR Proteas in Sunday’s final against the winner of the second semi-final between hosts England and New Zealand.
On Thursday evening world number three England beat the SPAR Proteas, ranked five in the world 58-47 to go top of their preliminary stage two group A. As South Africa ended second in the group they were drawn against the group B winners Australia in the semi-finals after Australia beat arch rivals New Zealand by a single late goal 50-49.
Australia are the defending world champions here in Liverpool and they have played South Africa 39 times. South Africa have never beaten or drawn with Australia, so the Aussie Diamonds will go into Saturdays semi-final as the firm favourites.
But the SPAR Proteas have one ace up their sleeve and that is their Head Coach Norma Plummer who is an Australian and is arguably the world’s best netball Coach. Plummer not only played for Australia in the winning World Cup side in 1975 but coached Australia to the 2007 and 2011 titles. In 1996 and 2000 Plummer’s under 21 Australian team were unbeaten in both World Youth Cups victories.
“I have had a good look at Australia and as good as they are we have opportunities and we will work on those” said Plummer. “My SPAR Proteas will go out onto court on Saturday with big hearts and give their every best. I have been so proud of them to have got to the last four. That was the goal and it’s been achieved. Obviously going onto against England was nerve-racking for the girls, and those nerves cost them a few goals. Neves need to be managed but you can appreciate the pressure on the team from all over, never in 25 years have a South African team did so well, they just not used to the big stage yet and so going out against the most dominant force in world netball on Saturday will have to be well managed. But saying that we are as best prepared as we would be to take the Aussies on and the girls are looking forward to it.”
The SPAR Proteas vs Australian Diamonds semi-final will be played on Saturday 20 July 2019 at 12 noon SA time and will be live on SuperSport.