Netball: Singapore snatch dramatic draw with Namibia thanks to Charmaine Soh's equaliser in the dying seconds

Singapore's Sindhu Nair is sandwiched between two Namibia players as she fights for a rebound in yesterday's M1 Nations Cup netball tournament at the OCBC Arena.
Singapore's Sindhu Nair is sandwiched between two Namibia players as she fights for a rebound in yesterday's M1 Nations Cup netball tournament at the OCBC Arena.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Captain Soh sinks equaliser in dying seconds; coach Milicich praises team's stubborn spirit

M1 NATIONS CUP

Singapore 54 Namibia 54

Thirty seconds stood between a draw and a loss for Singapore's netball team yesterday in their opening fixture of the M1 Nations Cup.

As world No. 28 Singapore trailed Namibia 54-53 in the dying seconds of the game, captain Charmaine Soh was fed the ball.

The crowd at the OCBC Arena had reached fever pitch, but Soh cut a composed figure as she sank the goal that levelled the score and salvaged a draw for the hosts.

Soh said later: "It was crazy. At that point, a lot of things went through my mind, but I was like we have to put it out, we have no time and, thankfully, it went in.

"The team really supported well and managed to bring the ball down into the circle for us."

Coach Natalie Milicich had anticipated that the first game against the Africans, who are ranked 33rd, would be a tough one and the team had practised to prepare themselves for such a scenario where there were 15 seconds remaining and they had possession.

On her own, Soh had also simulated the noisy setting of a game by practising shooting with rock music playing in the background.

FULL CONCENTRATION

It was crazy. A lot of things went through my mind, but I was like we have to put it out, we have no time and, thankfully, it went in.

CHARMAINE SOH, Singapore captain, on staying composed.

It was a fitting end to the pulsating encounter which saw an evenly matched first quarter end with the score level at 12-12.

A pacy Namibia side forced several sloppy passages of play from Singapore in the second quarter and took a 25-22 half-time lead.

After the restart, Namibia scored the next two points and appeared ready to pull clear.

But Singapore restored parity with five consecutive goals and eventually ended the quarter with a slim 39-38 lead.

Milicich was pleased with her charges, saying: "It's a style we're not used to playing so I'm really proud of how we stuck to task. It's really hard to actually bring your own flavour to the game when you're playing a different style, so we actually did that really well."

"We worked really hard to get it defensively and it's really important that we get it to our shooters.

"We showed real patience... There were a couple of critical moments and we possibly could have gotten a couple of goals, but I'm really proud of the team."

Namibia coach Julene Meyer said: "It was a good and challenging game. We're not on top of our game yet.

"We're still lacking that rhythm, sharpness and game exposure."

In other matches, Ireland beat Papau New Guinea 41-38 while Cook Islands defeated Botswana 54-47.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2019, with the headline 'Last-ditch draw for S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe