Kampala. Uganda returned to winning ways beating debutants Zimbabwe 58-47 yesterday to finish seventh at the Netball World Cup that ended in Liverpool, England.
The She Cranes had lost three games in a row, with confidence waning every game but captain Peace Proscovia scored 27 of 33 shots, Mary Cholock Nuba 15 of 18, and Stella Oyella 16 of 17 to ensure Uganda finish a place better than they did in Sydney 2015.
There were voices of discontent especially in WhatsApp groups, from those who thought Coach Vincent Kiwanuka’s side, which rose to sixth in world rankings, should have done better, maybe finish fifth. They could not fathom losing to Malawi, a team Uganda has beaten more than thrice in recent meetings.
Neither did they want to remember that Malawi is a more experienced and unpredictable side [they beat New Zealand 57-53 at the 2018 Commonwealth Games].
Rants about players being tried in several positions unnatural to them could be genuine. But if Kiwanuka’s claims of rampant injuries and fatigue are not excuses, then rotation could have been a wise and inevitable damage control measure.
“Thanks for all your support and criticism,” Kiwanuka said in a WhatsApp voice message. “You could be right that the team was supposed to do better, but considering the problems we had in the camp, I was even surprised we managed this performance. “If a player tells you ‘coach I can’t play, what do you do?’ We had over eight players injured throughout the tournament.”
Besides finishing seventh position, statistics show Uganda has done better than at 2015 World Cup. Talking offense, in 2015 Uganda scored 396 goals from 466 shots compared to 400 goals from 449 shots in 2019. In defense, Uganda conceded 435 goals compared to 392 in 2019. In 2015, Uganda won three in eight games compared to four in eight in 2019. Uganda’s highest score in 2015 was 74–38 vs Zambia, compared to 69-48 vs Samoa in 2019. In 2015, the biggest loss was New Zealand 76–33, in 2019 it was England 64-32. Oyella, who picked three Player of the Match awards, is contented. “I’m very happy because we have improved,” she told SuperSport.
NETBALL WORLD CUP
7th-8th place result
Uganda 58-47 Zimbabwe
Proscovia: goals 170/190 shots [89.4%]
Oyella: goals 121/133 shots [90.9%]
Nuba: goals 75/84 shots [89.2%]
Nanyonga: goals 33/45 shots [73.3%]