Viatality Netball World Cup 2019 Preview
Vitality Netball World Cup 2019
Preview by Peter Moore
The city of Liverpool has been famous for amongst others the Beatles, Liverpool FC and Cilla Black, but from July 12th until the 21st centre stage will fall upon the M&S Arena when the 15th INF Netball World Cup will take place in England for just the third time in its history.
The first ever Netball World Cup was also held in England back in 1963, since then 14 subsequent World Cup’s have taken place around the world, including Birmingham hosting the event back in 1995.
A total of 16 teams will participate in the 2019 INF Netball World Cup. Five teams have automatically qualified by virtue of their rankings, while England as hosts was an automatic participant. The remaining ten sides qualified via regional tournaments with two teams chosen from each of the five international netball regions- Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
After a draw, the 16 teams were divided into four groups with four teams per group. After the preliminary stage, the top three teams from the group will qualify for the second preliminary stage of the competition. The top three from Groups A and B will then form Group F while the top three from Groups C and D will then form Group G. After the second round, the top two from Groups F and G will move on to the semi-finals, with the two winners contesting the final on Sunday July 21st.
Here are the groupings:
Group A Group B Group C Group D
Australia New Zealand Jamiaca England
Northern Ireland Malawi South Africa Uganda
Zimbabwe Barbados Trinidad & Tobago Scotland
Sri Lanka Singapore Fiji Samoa
In 2015, it was Australia who won the World Cup after defeating their close neighbours New Zealand by 58-55, to win their 11th overall World Cup and third in a row. England claimed third place after beating Jamaica in the Bronze medal match 66-44.
This year, no surprises the Diamonds of Australia are once again favourites to lift the Netball World Cup, with the hosts England second favourites and Jamaica third.
Australia, the defending World Champions, were beaten by England earlier this year in the quad series and at the Commonwealth Games, but despite this, history is very much on their side, having won seven out of the last nine World Cup’s.
England have made it to the semi-finals in every World Cup since it’s interception in 1963, However, they have only made it to the finals just once, and that was back in 1975, and are still awaiting their first World Cup Final victory.
Let’s take a look at all the teams competing in Liverpool.
Australia. The current holders, and the side to beat in Liverpool. The Aussies have an outstanding World Cup record in history, having never finished lower than second. Under Coach Lisa Alexander expect Australia to once again be the side to beat, as they bid for their third successive World Cup.
Northern Ireland. The Irish line up will feature many familiar faces from the Vitality Netball Superleague, with the likes of London Pulse’s Fionnuala Toner alongside Saracens Mavericks Michelle Drayne and Manchester Thunder’s Caroline O’Hanlon. Northern Ireland will start of their campaign with the stiffest test imaginable when they face Australia.
Zimbabwe. Ranked currently 14 in the world, this will see Zimbabwe make their debut in the Netball World Cup. In the African Regional Qualifier they defeated Kenya 58-42 to reach Liverpool.
You would have to go back as far as 1963 for Sri Lanka’s best tournament finish when they finished ninth. Under Coach Jinadasa and experienced defender Chathurangi Jayasooriya, you would expect them to struggle in the group.
Ranked number four in the world, The Silver Ferns have won four Netball World Cup tournaments. The last being in 2003 and have no less than eight runners up placings to their name. Having finished in a disappointing fourth place in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the Silver Ferns will be looking to put up a much better performance at Liverpool.
Currently ranked six in the world, Malawi will be no strangers to facing New Zealand in their group, having beaten them 57-53, and as fate would have it they will also face New Zealand in their first group match at Liverpool. Malwai produced a spirited showing in the last World Cup, with a very encouraging sixth place finish.
The Bajan Gems, who are currently ranked 12 in the world will be another side to look out for in this World Cup and may surprise a few people.
Singapore’s path to Liverpool was secured after finishing second behind Sri Lanka in the Asian Regional Qualifier. This will be their 10th World Cup competition in total. Most recently they finished the 2015 tournament back in 15th place.
Ranked number 3 in the World, the Sunshine Girls will certainly be a force to be reckoned with in Liverpool. Winners of the Bronze Medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2018, they have a squad that is packed full of talent.
In the most recent Quad Series against England, there was certainly enough evidence that the SPAR Proteas will be a difficult side to face. With the former Australian Diamonds Coach Norma Plummer at the helm, who has already won two World Cups, she has put together a very competitive side. Led by Wasps Captain Bongiwe Msomi the number five ranked side will be a test for everybody in their group.
Trinada and Tobago. The Calypso Girls will certainly play with flair and fun in Liverpool in the coming few days. They are the only team other than Australia and New Zealand to have won a Netball World Cup, back in 1979 when they shared the title with Australia and New Zealand.
Ranked 13 in the world, the Fiji Pearls will commence their campaign against the Sunshine Girls on Friday 12th July. Under Head Coach Vicki Wilson- who is a former Australian shooter- you can expect this World Cup to be a good learning curve for the girls.
The hosts will be targeting World Cup success on the back of a Commonwealth Games Gold Medal. Head Coach Tracy Neville has gone with experienced names in her squad including veterans Geva Mentor, Jade Clarke and Rachel Dunn. Shooter Dunn, 36, returned to the England Netball set up for the January Quad Series after missing out on the gold medal winning Commonwealth Games team in 2018. Defender Mentor age 34 and Clarke 35, have been selected for their fifth World Cup. Neville, has named Serena Guthrie as Captain for the home side alongside eight Commonwealth gold medallists. Helen Housby- who scored the dramatic winning goal as England beat Australia on the Gold Coast last April- have also been selected. If anybody can stop the Australian machine, then it must be England. If they can get over the pressure of being at home alongside the expectation levels of the country, then the hosts may just be celebrating come July 21st.
The Uganda She Cranes toured England at the end of last year and also faced the hosts in a three-test series. Despite not winning a test, the side put up a competitive performance and will be a match for every side in the group.
The majority of Scotland’s side will be familiar to spectators of the Vitality Netball Superleague with the presence of Strathclyde Sirens in the competition. The girls finished ninth at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and will be looking to improve on past experiences on the world stage.
Samoa came through the Oceania Qualifying tournament and didn’t drop a match against the Cook Islands, Tonga, Papua New Guinea and Fiji, and will be looking to build on a 11th place finish in Sydney four years ago. This will be their seventh World Cup competition and a highest place of sixth so far for the girls from Samoa.