Netball: No Kimberly Lim, but Games hopes not dim

Singapore's Carmen Goh challenged by Namibia's Anna Shipanga for the ball during the M1 Nations Cup final yesterday. Singapore gave up a half-time lead in the seven-goal loss.
Singapore's Carmen Goh challenged by Namibia's Anna Shipanga for the ball during the M1 Nations Cup final yesterday. Singapore gave up a half-time lead in the seven-goal loss.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Key player misses Nations Cup final defeat through injury, likely to miss SEA Games too

M1 NATIONS CUP

Singapore 42

Namibia 49

As her teammates played and lost the netball Nations Cup final 49-42 to 33rd-ranked Namibia at the OCBC Arena yesterday, Singapore wing attack Kimberly Lim sat on the sidelines with her left leg in a walking cast, looking at proceedings, but not being able to play.

The 23-year-old tore her Achilles tendon seven minutes into the Republic's 57-47 win over Papua New Guinea (No. 20) the day before, and Singapore coach Natalie Milicich lamented missing a key player for the match. In her absence, Carmen Goh and Kwok Shuyi took turns to play wing attack.

She said: "There were little connections that were missing with Kimberly missing, so it was always going to take us a bit of time to connect with a loss like that.

"We got enough balls defensively, but those links, timing, availability to the ball were some things that we missed today.

"We learnt a lot from our match today and are proud that we got into the final."

World No. 28 Singapore held their own against the Namibians in the first half and went into the break 25-20 up. But the physical African side stepped up in the second half and capitalised on the height of 1.93m goal shooter Jaumbuaije Zauana, who boasted a 96 per cent conversion rate.

Singapore also missed a few crucial chances to allow Namibia to clinch their first Nations Cup title.

Winning coach Julene Meyer said: "I am very happy with their performance today. I am very happy with how the girls came back especially after their deficit, they kept on going."

Worse for Singapore is the likelihood of Lim missing the SEA Games in the Philippines, with the netball competition scheduled for Nov 25 to Dec 2.

While Lim's likely enforced absence will give the team precious little time to work out new combinations and link-up plays, Milicich remains confident of her charges' chances of wresting gold from defending champions Malaysia.

Milicich said: "The loss of Kimberly is going to give us the opportunity to do something different, so we just need a bit of time to get that right and we're on track."

Captain Charmaine Soh added: "Kim is one of the rocks in our midfield, but I believe every player has her own skills and strengths.

"We have to work around it and today's combination wasn't surprising, we've worked together like that before and come up with contingency plans."

While the players have identified areas for improvement, Soh believes there have also been positives from the Nations Cup, where they secured three consecutive wins, including one over world No. 12 Cook Islands.

She said: "The team showed fighting spirit and resilience to try and play all the way through to the last whistle.

"The team also communicated a lot, no one was isolated, we were patient with our passes, everyone believes and trusts each other and we got into the final."

In the day's earlier games, Ireland bagged their first win of the tournament, beating Papua New Guinea 47-37 to finish fifth, while Cook Islands came in third after overcoming Botswana 49-46.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 27, 2019, with the headline 'No Lim, but Games hopes not dim'. Print Edition | Subscribe