She Cranes aim to defy odds

Thursday July 11 2019

Good Catch.  She Cranes vice captain Ajio (C)

Good Catch. She Cranes vice captain Ajio (C) expertly collects during the friendly game against Zimbabwe that Uganda won 58-54 at Nakirebe. PHOTO BY ISMAIL KEZAALA 

By REGINA NALUJJA

Kampala. She Cranes assistant captain Lilian Ajio has admitted that their opening fixture against England Roses will be a hard one but the team is ready to showcase their hard work against the world’s third seeded opponents tomorrow at M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool.
Wing Defender Ajio, who returns for her second World Cup after the 2015 edition, is confident that the three months of hard training will not be in vain.

“As a team we are just waiting for Friday to showcase our abilities. All I can say we are ready to face England,” said Ajio.
Meanwhile Mary Nuba, who played last season in the English Vitality League with Loughborough Lightning, earlier told this paper that there is no need for the She Cranes to fear England because they have done enough training and know how the English team plays, too.

“We are so talented. We have played the Roses before and lost to them with a very small goal difference. If we become more determined, we can beat them,” said Nuba.
Both countries have never won a World Cup but England has made it to the semi-finals in every episode of the INF Netball World Cup since its inception in 1963. They also made it to finals, only once, in 1975 but were stopped by Australia.

Determined England
This is Uganda’s third World Cup after appearances in 1979 and 2015 in Trinidad and Tobago and Australia respectively. Uganda have never gone past the group phase.
The England Roses, who won their first Commonwealth Games in Australia last year, are looking forward to replicate the feat at their home ground.

With a good mix of experience and youth, the Roses look to be among the strongest teams in this year’s World Cup. However pundits have also described Uganda as one to watch.
English coach Tracey Neville, who will step down as England’s coach after World Cup having spent four years with the team, delights in a wealth of experienced players.

Formidable players
Among England’s formidable players is centre Serena Guthri, who will dictate pace from the middle, alongside Uganda’s Ruth Meeme and returning Goal Keeper Geva Mentor, in her fifth successive World Cup.
Shooter Rachel Dunn, who netted most of the England’s goals at last year’s Test Series, cannot also be underlooked.
Meanwhile Uganda’s formidable defender Ajio will have to brave England’s in-form Layla Guscoth, who debuted at the 2015 World Cup, and has been an outstanding player in Super League side Team Bath.

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Ajio has played netball for over 10 years and she is returning for her second World Cup after the 2015 edition in Sydney. She was cited among Uganda’s notable players in this year’s World Cup alongside shooters Peace Proscovia and Mary Nuba.
The She Cranes will later face Samoa and Scotland on July 13 and July 14 respectively to complete their group fixtures.

NETBALL WORLD CUP
Date: July 12-21
Venue: M&S Arena-Liverpool, England.
Group D World Cup fixtures
July 12: Uganda vs. England
July 13: Uganda vs. Scotland
July 14: Uganda vs. Samoa

rnalujja@ug.nationmedia.com

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