In the past three Netball World Cups they featured in, Uganda’s national team, She Cranes had never won an opening game at the global stage. However, that jinx is no more after they beat Singapore 79-37 in their opening match at the 2023 showpiece in Cape Town, South Africa on Friday. This is Uganda’s fourth appearance at the global stage and their third straight World Cup.
A first Netball World Cup clash between Uganda and Singapore saw the African nation dominating from start to finish and walking away with a 79-37 victory.
The She Cranes pulled away in the first quarter, enjoying 60 per cent of the possession in the period and surging ahead to a 22-9 lead.
It was more of the same in the second quarter as the Ugandans proved quicker and slicker on all fronts with Haniisha Muhameed and Shadiah Nassanga doing the business in the shooting circle.
The Ugandans stuck with their starting seven throughout the first half, coach Fred Mugerwa only making changes at halftime. He brought 6 foot 6 Mary Cholhok on as goal shooter, with captain Irene Eyaru in as goal attack among several other changes.
Cholhok is one of just two players in the Ugandan squad with Netball World Cup experience, having played at the previous tournament in 2019. She played just one quarter on Friday, however, as Mugerwa continued to roll in the changes and give all his players valuable court time.
Ultimately it was a comfortable victory for the east Africans, much to the delight of their vocal supporters in the crowd, although coach Mugerwa was convinced his side should have scored more goals.
“I was happy but not a hundred per cent,” he said. “We should have scored more than the goals we scored but I think there are some errors that we are making as a team, but we will work on that.
“Some passes were not good so we need to work on that, some of the movements as well, but the moment we work those ones out I think everything will be fine.”
Singapore captain Kai Wei Toh said the match provided a valuable learning experience for her side.
“It was a very big first game. We are a very young team so this game allowed them to experience different body builds and physicality – something that we can use to prepare for the next few games,” she said.
“We are fit enough to go for it – we just have to go for it. We didn’t expect it to be so tough but I think it’s a good thing that the team experienced it once and we know what to expect for the next one.”
“I think we can utilise our speed a bit more. Today we were a bit hesitant with our passes and runs because of their long arms and hands so if we are able to do that, we’ll be able to play a better game next time.”
She Cranes will face title holders New Zealand on on Saturday morning. She Cranes will wrap their group action on Sunday evening against Trinidad & Tobago.
How the She Cranes started – Hanisha Muhamed (GS), Shadiah Nassanga (GA), Norah Lunkuse (WA), Margaret Baagala (C), Ahaffie Nalwanja (WD), Christine Nakitto (GD), Stella Nanfuka (GK)
Q2: 42-18 (20-9)
Q3: 62-29 (20-11)
Q4: 79-37 (17-8)
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Margret Baagala (Uganda)