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Sri Lanka faces tough challenge at the 2019 Netball World Cup

The draw for the 2019 Netball World Cup was made in Nottingham. (Photo by Netball WC)
by Hishan Welmilla Editor in Chief SriLankasports.com/Secretary General Sri Lanka Sports Writers Association

COLOMBO, October 10, 2018 - The Asian netball queens Sri Lanka will have their work cut out against reigning champions Australia, Northern Ireland and Zimbabwe in Group A at the 2019 Netball World Cup in Liverpool.

The draw for the 16-team tournament took place at England Netball’s annual volunteer recognition event, the Vitality Goalden Globes Awards, held in Nottingham. The event confirmed all the teams and fixtures, across the four groups, for the first phase of the new format competition (Preliminaries Stage One).

New Format - In February the International Netball Federation announced a new format for the World Cup, which will see teams compete in three stages: the Preliminaries Stage One from 12-14 July, the Preliminaries Stage Two from 15-18 July and the Play-offs and Placings matches from 19 -21 July.

In the second stage of the competition, the top three teams from groups A and B will form group F, and the top three teams from groups C and D will form group G. The bottom four finishers from groups A-D will compete for 13th-16th places in group E.

Where teams in groups F and G have already played each other in the Preliminaries Stage One (i.e. A1 has already played A2 and A3), these results will carry through to the Preliminaries Stage Two.

Final stages - The teams finishing first and second in groups F and G will go through to the semi-finals, with the top placed team in each group facing the second placed team in the other group. The winners of each semi-final will compete for gold in the final, with the losers playing for bronze.

The teams finishing third and fourth in groups F and G will compete for final positions fifth to eighth – third in one group plays fourth in the other – with the winners playing off for fifth place and the losers for seventh.The teams that finish fifth in groups F and G will play off for ninth and 10th places.The teams that finish last in groups F and G will play off for 11th and 12th places.The top two teams from group E will play off for 13th and 14th place and the bottom two teams will play off for 15th and 16th place.

Qualification - Sri Lanka qualified to the Netball World Cup after winning the Asian Championship with Singapore finishing runners-up. The Sri Lankans will meet Zimbabwe in their first outing in the Preliminaries Stage One groups matches on July 12 on the opening day, followed by Northern Ireland (July 13) and the defending champions Australia (July 14).

Sri Lanka’s opponent expect the Asian to perform well. “We have to be happy with tonight’s draw – obviously all the teams who’ve qualified are going to be good and we want to be playing against the best, like Australia who we faced at the Commonwealth Games,” said Northern Ireland’s captain Caroline O’Hanlon.

“We were up against Sri Lanka in the last World Cup and they’re tough to play against. Their shooter is really tall and she’s just come back into the fold, which is having a significant positive impact on their results. We know what their style is, it’s just tough to stop them going ahead and doing it. We don’t know anything about Zimbabwe but they’re an up and coming team, which is exciting.”

Sri Lanka’s preparation - Sri Lankan team expect to begin their training from October 23 with Thilaka Jinadasa, who has been allowed to continue as the coach by the Minister of Sports Fiszer Musthapha. The Ministry of Sports instructed the Sri Lanka Netball Federation to offer Jinadasa a contract until the next Asian Championship in 2020. The World Cup squad selection is expected to be made in January, with international fixtures among the plans to gain much needed exposure.

“We have to again pick a pool for the World Cup by January next year, said coach Jinadasa. “It may not be the same pool that won the Asia Cup. We need to provide other players to prove themselves and open the doors to get in to the selection in order to get the best team for the World Cup as it is so challenging”

“I hope to play two pre-competitive tournaments with some regional sides by March or April. Then we have planned to play against an African side and a European side as well.”

Rifts in netball continue - The Association of Netball Coaches maintains that the appointment of Thilaka Jinadasa as the national coach by the Minister of Sports till 2020 is against the constitution of the Netball Federation of Sri Lanka. The President of the Association of Netball Coaches Hyacinth Wijesinghe says a recommendation should be obtained at the Council meeting of the Netball Federation of Sri Lanka to extend the contract and appoint Thilaka Jinadasa as the national coach and then should be forwarded to minister’s approval.

“We are not against the appointment of Thilaka as the national coach at this juncture, but it should be done in proper way according to the constitution,” said Wijesinhe.

She pointed out that a similar situation arose in 2001 when Jinadasa was given the extension until the World Cup after winning the Asian Championship by the then Minister of Sports.

Baseless accusations - But the accusation made by Hyacinth Wijesinghe, the President of the Netball Coaches Association, against the administration of the Netball Federation of Sri Lanka on the appointment of the national Coach are baseless says Trixi Nanayakkara, the President of the Netball Federation of Sri Lanka.

She has pointed out that the extension was not provided to Hyacinth Wijesighe as the Sri Lankan national coach after winning the Asian Championship in 2001 as Hyacinth Wijesinghe was under a disciplinary inquiry based on the report forwarded by the team manager of the Sri Lankan Netball team that took part in the 2001 Asian Championship.

After the inquiry upheld by three member disciplinary committee, Hyacinth was found guilty and her contract was terminated, Nanayakkara further said.

“I don’t like to mention the accusations against Hyacinth for which she was found guilty. The decision of terminating her contract as the national coach was not my personal decision. It was taken by the Netball Federation of Sri Lanka as the governing body,” Nanayakkara pointed out.

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Sri Lanka faces tough challenge at the 2019 Netball World Cup

By Hishan Welmilla Editor in Chief SriLankasports.com/Secretary General Sri Lanka Sports Writers Association
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