Ruth Aitken working her magic with Singapore at Netball Nations Cup
New Zealand’s most successful coach has taken on her biggest challenge yet – getting Singapore back onto the world netball stage.
So far…so good.
Singapore has won three matches in a row at the Nations Cup, two of those are against higher ranked sides.
Aitken only took over a few months ago, but the signs are excellent; Singapore’s midcourt is already looking a tonne better with some obvious new Kiwi stylings and their goal shooter Cassandra Soh is fast on her way to becoming a world-class goaler.
Singapore is top of the table at this week’s netball Nations Cup; they had a thrilling win over Papua New Guinea 44-43 on day two following a convincing victory over Ireland and yesterday beat traditional rivals Sri Lanka 60-43. Sri Lanka beat Singapore 65-52 in last year’s event where Singapore finished a disappointing fourth.
Singapore’s win over PNG was particularly impressive. The Singapore team played in the Australian Netball League a few seasons back and got absolutely hammered in every match, including against lower-rated teams like Tasmania and the ACT. PNG contains a former Queensland Fusion frontline of Maleta Roberts and Tiata Baldwin; Baldwin stands at 193cm is a key player in the Queensland state league, while Roberts played in the old Commonwealth Bank Trophy with the Firebirds. Keeping PNG to just 43 goals was a great outcome for Singapore.
196cm goal keeper Chen Li Li is reportedly combining very well with new recruit, English ex-pat Olivia Flanagan in defence.
Singapore now looks ready to take the title for the first time since 2007 where they upset Trinidad, Nth Ireland and Canada to win the crown.
Since that year Singapore has had some fairly ordinary results – failing to qualify for the 2010 Commonwealth Games and finishing second last at the last two World Cups. These recent wins against PNG and the Cook Islands (in a test series against Cook Islands in Rarotonga last month) are the team’s best results in half a decade.
In other results, the visiting USA side has faced big losses from all opposition so far; Sri Lanka thrashed the Americans 67-37 and Ireland beat them 62-33. Ireland is ranked 28th, while USA is ranked 19th. Ireland went through the event winless last year and usually plays in the second division of the Netball Europe event against sides like Malta and Gibraltar, so this win is a big milestone for the side.
Uganda has had a less than insipiring start, just scraping by to beat Ireland in round two and salvaging a draw against PNG. Uganda had to forfeit their first match against USA because they missed their original flights. This caused them to play their round two match just a few hours after getting off a 10 hour flight. Uganda’s late start will most likely cost them a place in the final, which at this stage looks to be between PNG and Singapore.
Netball Nations Cup Fixtures (held in Singapore)
4 December (Wed)
3.00pm Papua New Guinea v United States of America
5.00pm Republic of Ireland v Sri Lanka
7.00pm Uganda v Singapore
5 December (Thu) Off Day
6 December (Fri)
3.00pm Papua New Guinea v Republic of Ireland
5.00pm Sri Lanka v Uganda
7.00pm United States of America v Singapore
7 December (Sat)
1.00pm 5th: v 6th:
3.00pm 3rd: v 4th:
5.00pm 1st: v 2nd:
6.30pm Closing Ceremony
You can catch all the results on the Netball Singapore Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/netballsingapore