Netball: Nations Cup will be good preparation for 2023 World Cup, says S’pore coach

Singapore netball players huddle before the final against Sri Lanka of the Asian Netball Championship at OCBC Arena on Sept 11, 2022. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE – The Nations Cup rolls off on Sunday and while only six players remain from the 2019 event – when Singapore finished second behind Namibia – national netball coach Annette Bishop is not bothered.

The New Zealander said: “If you look at both squads, the players are very young...

“Even when we played at the Asian Netball Championship (in September), we had a few people earning their first caps.

“So we’re always keeping an eye on what younger players are doing so they can be given these opportunities.”

World No. 30 Singapore will have two teams competing in the Dec 4-10 Nations Cup – the Opens and A squads.

They will be joined by Fiji (No. 15), Ireland (24), Malaysia (27) and Botswana (31) at the OCBC Arena.

Each opponent poses different challenges, and Bishop said: “It’s going to be a tough competition. All of them are very experienced.

“Their line-ups have changed a bit but we’re really just focusing on our strengths and what we can bring to the table.”

Malaysia are fielding a less experienced team than the one that came for September’s Asian championship.

Only four players have over 30 caps, while notable names like captain Nur Syafazliyana Mohd Ali and star shooter An Najwa Azizan are missing from the roster.

In contrast, Singapore’s team are largely unchanged, with shooters Tan Xin Yi and debutante Matilda Su-Yin Narayan coming in for Lee Pei Shan and Goh Wei Ping.

The squad also feature four players who competed in their first major international tournament in September.

But veteran Kimberly Lim is confident the newer players are better prepared this time.

Lim, the most experienced player with 101 caps, said: “We’ve been working with them to help them see what might happen at games and courtside. Hopefully, that will help them emotionally and mentally.

“The big difference with the Nations Cup is there are lots of different countries coming.. This will help the younger players understand the different movements required when playing different styles.

“The ultimate goal is to win, of course, and stay injury-free. For the young ones, it’s really for them to enjoy the international experience.”

Bishop noted that this will be good preparation for the team ahead of the July 2023 Netball World Cup.

Singapore have been drawn in Pool D at the quadrennial tournament in Cape Town, alongside defending champions New Zealand, Uganda and Trinidad & Tobago.

Bishop said: “The Nations Cup is more for building a tough mindset because these teams are so strong. But we just have to ensure we go from the start and bring our A game. That will be the same for the World Cup next year.”

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