Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist


OPINION: Proteas need to pull up their socks, with World Cup on the line

An unfancied Scotland team were just out of touch for most of their match, outscoring South Africa in the final quarter.


While they have outclassed their opposition this week, as expected, it is clear that the Proteas are going to have to step it up a gear if they are to be competitive at next year's Netball World Cup. Hosting the global showpiece for the first time, pressure is on the SA team to secure a historic medal at the 2023 spectacle in Cape Town. Just eight months out, however, they are not displaying the form that will be required to challenge for the World Cup trophy - or even a podium place - on home soil. ALSO READ: Proteas coach…

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While they have outclassed their opposition this week, as expected, it is clear that the Proteas are going to have to step it up a gear if they are to be competitive at next year’s Netball World Cup.

Hosting the global showpiece for the first time, pressure is on the SA team to secure a historic medal at the 2023 spectacle in Cape Town.

Just eight months out, however, they are not displaying the form that will be required to challenge for the World Cup trophy – or even a podium place – on home soil.

ALSO READ: Proteas coach admits World Cup might be beyond their reach

After finishing sixth at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, following a shock defeat to Angola, they went on to take second position at the Fast5World Series in Christchurch earlier this month.

The short format doesn’t really translate to the traditional game, however, and Netball SA followed through with a decision to drop head coach Dorette Badenhorst for Australian mentor Norma Plummer.

Lots of work required

And though Plummer took the team to the semifinals in Liverpool in 2019, she admitted this week that there was plenty of work to do ahead of the Cape Town showpiece, and there might not be enough time to crack the national side into shape.

With a new management setup, adjustments will need to be made fast, and their results in the Diamond Challenge series in Pretoria this week have suggested they will need to spend as much time together as possible in the build-up to the World Cup.

They beat Zimbabwe 72-37, but their neighbours are ranked 13th, so it doesn’t tell us much.
More concerning is that world No 10 Scotland were just out of touch for most of their match and outscored the hosts in the final quarter.

To earn a medal at the World Cup, the Proteas will have to be at their best and punch above their weight, and based on their results so far this season, it seems little more than a pipe dream at this stage.

It’s not impossible, but a late shake-up among coaches and a struggle to find form could create barriers which are simply too high.

The national side will have more opportunities to show improvement ahead of the World Cup, but they’ll have to pull up their socks soon. They’re running out of time.

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