SINGAPORE — Singapore qualified for the 2023 Netball World Cup after reaching the final of the Asian Netball Championship by beating arch-rivals Malaysia 54-41 at the OCBC Arena on Saturday (10 September).
In front of the raucous crowd cheering them on, the national netballers produced a stirring performance, taking the lead midway through the first quarter before fending off Malaysia's fightback to 36-33 in the third quarter, easing to a memorable win.
Despite losing veteran goal shooter Charmaine Soh through injury in the opening match of the tournament, the Singapore team have belied their youthfulness to play at a consistently high level in both defence and offence all week.
The hosts will face defending champions Sri Lanka - 67-43 winners over Hong Kong in the other semi-final - in Sunday's final. With the two finalists earning the World Cup berths, Singapore thus earned their spot in the elite tournament to be held in Cape Town, South Africa, in July 2023.
It was an especially sweet victory for wing attack Kimberly Lim, who earned her 100th international cap amid a comeback from a serious anterior crucial ligament injury suffered in the same arena in the 2019 Nations Cup.
"I'm very proud of the team, we're one of the youngest here but we've really grown a lot over the past two years and this is the result of our hard work," she said.
"The Malaysian team came back really strong, they're known to be fighters and they wouldn't give up even with such a big (deficit), and on our part, we shouldn't have eased off and we started to go off their game plan. But the team managed to gel back together and go back to what we were doing."
Familiar and formidable foe in the final
Singapore will be gunning for their fourth Asian title on Sunday, but they will face a familiar and formidable obstacle in the Sri Lankans, the six-time champions. They had already lost 49-67 to the defending champions in the second round on Wednesday.
"We have a big battle tomorrow, so our focus is fully on recovery right now, and hopefully we'll come back stronger than what we did in round two," Lim said.
"One obvious advantage that the Sri Lankans have on us is their height, but there are ways to work around that and that'll be something we look at when we do our game plan.”
The Philippines won the Plate competition and placed fifth overall with their 42-38 win over Brunei, while India are winners of the Bowl category.
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