KAMPALA. Unlike at previous tournaments, Uganda’s coaching staff have tried to give all members of the She Cranes team at least a playing chance at the Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England.
But the rotational policy has attracted credit and criticism in almost equal measure because while it has paid off in some instances, in others it has cost the team dear. In Uganda’s opening fixture, for instance, Stella Oyella, naturally a goal attacker, was played at centre against hosts and favourites England. She looked out of place, committed many fouls, got warned before being sent off in the fourth quarter. The Roses won that quarter 20-6, and the match 64-32. That deficit still hurts the She Cranes that lost by 49-55 to England, the eventual Commonwealth Games champions last year.
This upset many enthusiasts, including former national coach Fred Mugerwa, who advised that players be played in their usual positions for better results.
Played as goal attacker in consequent games, Oyella has since become an idol, after scoring 97 goals from 107 shots.
That clinical conversion has been awarded with two Player of the Match gongs against Samoa and Scotland where she netted 17 of 18 and 27 of 28 attempts.
She scored 26 of 29 attempts against Trinidad and Tobago, and 27 of 30 against South Africa in the second group preliminaries.
“Oyella messed in the centre because it was not her position, but when they place at GA, she does wonders. Players should play their usual positions,” Mugerwa, who guided Uganda to All-Africa gold in Maputo in 2011, said at NTV Omumuli Gw’emizannyo yesterday.
Captain Peace Proscovia, a shooter, here, at Loughborough Lightning in England, and currently at Sunshine Coast Lightning in Australia, was switched to goal attack in the third quarter against Samoa, with her understudy Mary Nuba the shooter. No bad result as the twin towers contributed to 17 goals in that quarter, but still Mugerwa was not convinced by this gamble.
“Both are goal shooters; the combination of Proscovia and Rachael Nanyonga or Nuba and Oyella would have worked better because that is what players are used to,” he added.
Likewise goal keeper Stella Nanfuka has been playing goal defense in most games as counterpart Muhayimina Namuwaya as goalkeeper, which Mugerwa terms unrealistic.
“There is no way you can use two goalkeepers in one game, it is not a matter of placing players anywhere just because they have a height advantage,” he said.