All or nothing: Sunshine Girls hunt crucial victory over Australia to continue Gold medal hunt

By August 04, 2023
Jamaica's Sunshine Girls. Jamaica's Sunshine Girls.
For all the talk about not only breaking a 16-year medal drought but also improving on the quality of their three bronze medals won in the Netball World Cup history, Jamaica's Sunshine Girls will face their moment of truth when they square off against Australia in what is expected to be a nail-biting semi-final contest in Cape Town, South Africa on Saturday.
 
The Connie Francis-coached Sunshine Girls will enter the encounter brimming with confidence, having won all six games contested at the tournament so far, the most recent one being a 59-48 triumph over reigning champions and number two-ranked New Zealand on Wednesday.
 
Though Australia suffered a last minute 55-56 defeat to England in their top of the table clash, Francis is well aware of the quality the 11-time World Cup champions possess and, as such, knows her team has to produce their best and most efficient performance of the tournament if they are to continue their gold medal hunt.
 
Game time is 8:00am Jamaica time, after Emgland and New Zealand contest the other semi-final. 
 
“We are expecting it to be another tough game, but we are intent on going into this match the same way we did all the others. The ladies know what is at stake, so I expect them to play hard and execute all the strategies while enjoying the game and work as a unit by supporting each other,” Francis said.
 
In their previous meetings at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, the Jamaicans defeated Australia 57-55 in group stage play, but lost the all-important final 51-55 to the Australians and had to settle for silver.
 
While it is not a gold medal contest on this occasion, Australia stands in the way of Francis and her team possibly giving the country much more than just Independence Day to celebrate on August 6.
 
“Victory here and making it into the finals on Sunday, would mean a lot for these ladies who are hungry and determine to win a World Cup medal and it would also to give our country something special to celebrate for Independence.
 
“So, it is just about maintaining our focus and limiting our attacking turnovers as best as possible. So far in this tournament it has been remarkably low, but we hope we can get it even lower by looking for easier options where the passes are concerned. I am extremely happy with how they have performed up to this point, but this is our make-or-break moment so again we are expecting their best," Francis noted.
 
Recollecting the win over New Zealand, Francis pointed out that the day off was well deserved, even though it was one that the number four-ranked Sunshine Girls used to lock into game plans and strategies, which is testament to their determination to go all the way.
 
“They performed to expectations against New Zealand, and they are hoping to take lessons from that game into this one. Having a day's break helped us to work on different combinations that work successfully against the different style of play, and we are hoping that will come to the fore here,” Francis stated.
 
“I can't stress enough that we have to execute our game plans well and must be clinical in the shooting circle while maintaining our composure in mid court and defence for the entire game.
 We are just going out there against Australia to play our brand of netball with confidence, strong in mind and body,” she ended.
Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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