Sunday, August 6
•7-8th: Malawi 64-54 Tonga
•5-6th: Uganda 49-47 South Africa
•3-4th: New Zealand 45-52 Jamaica
•Final: England 45-61 Australia
Uganda Women’s National Netball team, the She Cranes, stunned hosts South Africa to finish fifth at the 2023 Netball World Cup.
The She Cranes, who had lost to South Africa earlier in the preliminaries and the 2019 World Cup in Liverpool, defied odds and got their revenge to win 49-47.
It’s Uganda’s best ever finish at the World Cup, and a milestone that sees the side become the number one team on the African Continent.
The She Cranes finished a joint 13th on their debut in Trinidad & Tobago, came 8th in 2015 Australia before coming out 7th in 2019 England.
Mary Nuba weighed in with 29 goals while Shadiah Nassanga and Irene Eyalu added 10 goals each.
Margret Baagala who missed the loss against Soutj Africa earlier, had 21 assists in another industrious show, and after the full whistle, she was taken off unconscious.
Elmeré van der Berg scored 36 goals for the SPAR Proteas while Nichole Taljaard added 11 goals.
Gallant She Cranes Toil To Earn Place
The She Cranes lost to South Africa 52-50 last Thursday, but the scoreline may not clearly tell a good picture.
They trailed by 14 goals at halftime then before a strong comeback, and could have won it save for a couple of errors including those made the umpires.
And on Sunday, the She Cranes knew that they had to remain positive throughout the whole contest if they were to dethrone the hosts.
And they got off to a perfect start when they led 4-0 inside the opening exchanges, with South Africa’s first goal coming four minutes inside the first quarter.
The game was error-strewn due to many nerves and intensity, and South Africa tied it 6-6. But Uganda held on to take a 12-11 lead after the first quarter.
It remained tight in the second quarter which ended 23-23, with South Africa’s Youngster and Goal Shooter Van Der Berg putting no foot wrong as she made Haniisha Muhameed work.
Coach Fred Mugerwa, while speaking to the TV midway through the game, expressed his discontent with the officiating.
He made a change that bore fruits, bringing in Sarah Nakiyunga with Shadiah Nassanga paving way, while Irene Eyalu shifted from Wing Attack to Goal Attack.
And the She Cranes ended the third quarter 39-37.
They played the last quarter with a lot of Discipline, Patience and fed Nuba at every opportunity.
But the hosts tied the game 40-40 with 10 minutes on the clock.
Nakiyunga pick-pocketed South Africa to help the She Cranes open up a three-goal lead.
South Africa huffed and puffed in-front of a huge demanding home crowd, but the She Cranes flourished with short passes and possessed around to run down the clock.
And the final whistle was greeted with huge celebrations from Team Uganda, and the hosts sunk their heads down in disbelief.
She Cranes Victory Overshadows Home Troubles
While still training back in Uganda, Coach Mugerwa said that the Uganda Netball Federation wrangles may affect the team’s performance at the World Cup.
The Federation was hit with administration issues stemming from mainly accountability issues that were raised by National Council of Sports.
A lot happened, with the Federation President Sarah Babirye Kityo asked to step aside for three months.
Babirye who recently forced her return, was also imprisoned for days for conning millions of shillings from people in a bid to take them abroad.
Her return to office, a day before the team flew out, was met with a coup De tat by her own Vice President who was standing in during her absentia.
The First Lady, who doubles as the Minister of Education and Sports Hon Janet Museveni, released a letter, ordering Babirye, who went to South Africa as a ‘fan’ not in her capacity as the President, to leave office until investigations are done.
Earlier, the She Cranes started their training at Kamwokya TLC which is an outside court.
They shifted to Africa Bible University but the court at the facility proved unsuitable due to the permanent basketball hoops.
Then, the move to Lugogo Indoor Arena was also short-lived due to the busy schedule at the place.
And the side finally moved to the magnificent Nakirebe, where they trained while residing in Lubowa.
Notably, there was an untold circus surrounding Goal Shooter Mary Nuba’s involvement who it was reported that she wanted to come on conditions that her Baby is also catered for.
And consequently, she just joined the team while in South Africa, just few days to start of the tournament.
This team has time and again succeeded amidst diversity, including travelling by road to Malawi and reach the semis of Africa Netball Cup on their debut in 2013!
Uganda finished second behind New Zealand in Group D of the first preliminaries, with two wins against Singapore and Trinidad & Tobago.
In the second preliminaries, they lost to Jamaica and South Africa, with a win coming against Wales.
They then beat Malawi in the first classification before Sunday’s big win against the host nation.
How She Cranes Started:
Mary Nuba GS
Shadiah Nassanga GA
Irene Eyaru WA
Margret Baagala C
Shaffie Nalwanja WD
Faridah Kadondi GD
Haniisha Muhameed GK