The brutal semi-finals
United Kingdom vs. Malaysia
The match kicked off with Malaysia scoring the 2 goals, leading against UK. Team UK showcased their talent with some amazing steals, overtaking Malaysia 3-2 by half time. The UK team still pumped up and ready, kept on scoring, keeping a 3-points lead. The score remained unchanged for the next 3 minutes, with both team defence on the point. Just before the game ended, team Malaysia managed to score a goal although it’s UK who brought home victory.
Sri Lanka vs. Egypt
Sri Lanka starts off the game with amazing passes and throws to a solid start. Against Egypt, it’s very visible that Sri Lanka is the superior team, leading 4-0 by half-time. The court was alive with chanting from both team’s supporter. Rows of Egyptian and Sri Lankan circled the court, shouting encouragement for their country. Sri Lankan Centre player performed several stunning steals, but team Egypt did impressive blocks, rendering both teams unable to score. Sri Lanka came out victorious despite Egypt scoring a goal right before the match concluded.
United Kingdom and Sri Lanka qualified for the finals.
The fight for 3rd place
The last mixed netball match that decided who would take the 3rd place was well awaited by both the Egypt and Malaysia teams. Both teams were impatiently waiting on the sidelines, trying to get those last-minute practice goals or perfect their defence strategy; it was without a doubt that this game was something both teams did not want to lose.
From the coin toss-up, Malaysia started with the ball and quickly got into the rhythm of the game, only for Egypt to steal the ball from the grasps of their hand and bring it to the other side of the court. The energy was thrumming through the room as Egypt passed the ball swiftly into the goal. It was no surprise that Egypt had a clear advantage with their soaring height towering over the Malaysian players; they passed effortlessly and caught any high balls that were thrown. And with that playing to their strength, two more goals were scored in their end.
This only fuelled the Malaysia team to work even harder. They got back into their groove when the centre ball was in their possession and was able to promptly get the ball inside the D through some beautiful sequence passing by the Centre position and the Wing Attack. Their tenacity was rewarded with two goals before the umpire whistled signalling the first half of the match had ended. The teams hastily huddled together to discuss tactics on how to win before they were called back into their position.
Five minutes on the clock started again when the umpire blew the whistle; especially with the shorter-than-normal match durations, both teams were not wasting any time when a mistake was called out and immediately got to scoring goals. Egypt grew their lead as their talented Goal Attack kept scoring while Malaysia tirelessly tried to fight back with their own goals through the teamwork done by the Goal Attack and Goal Shooter.
It was hard to see who the momentum of the match favoured until the last few minutes, where the ball was almost always seen on Egypt’s side of the goal. As the cheers from the Egypt supporters got louder, one keen supporter diligently asked for the time from the timekeeper, and with a smile shouted to the Egypt team ‘30 seconds!’ giving them that last bit of energy to score. As the last whistle blew to indicate the end of the match, Egypt had risen victoriously above all the obstacles that they went through last Friday.
Pride resonated from the supporters of the Egypt team while bittersweet cheers came from the supporters of the Malaysia team who promised they’ll come back next year to take the title of 1st place. But for now, congratulations to Egypt for winning 3rd place!
3rd Place (Egypt vs Malaysia) (8-4)
With the postponed Netball Finals that was supposed to take place the night before, the two teams came into the indoor courts in high spirits and determined to win. Due to the exhausting matches played yesterday, the captains of the countries along with the official umpires had decided to shorten the game to 10 minutes instead of 14 minutes, and as expected, the two teams were more than ready to make the most of the short time they had.
Sri Lanka gets the first centre ball and despite that being their advantage, the strong force of the players from the UK team makes a quick goal in less than minute into the match. Their energy continues as shown by the consecutive goal they shoot into their hoop. While on the outside it may seem like Sri Lanka’s team is faltering and their defence is slowly crumbling under the intense heat, they persevere through the match and catch the rebound of the unsuccessful goals attempted by the UK team. And like that the ball is flying from one half of the court to the other and they make their first goal of the match.
There were players from both teams that stood out to the audience watching; the Centre position of the Sri Lanka team who carried the team on her back with her agile moves and faster-than-light reflexes and the Goal Keeper of the UK team which many can commend for his skills in blocking the numerous goals Sri Lanka attempted to score. The back and forth movement of the ball was a clear tell-tale that this match would not go down without a fight, so it was no surprise that the match had ended in a 3-3 tie.
While officials rushed to decide what course of action to take next, a decision was made to play a 5-minute match with no break. And boy was there no breaks whatsoever. Never had I seen such a fast-paced match; both teams were tenaciously playing to their wit’s end, quickly getting into position whenever a mistake was made and scoring goals left and right, until a minute was left on the time and both teams were on a tie yet again. From each side of the court, you could hear the shouts of ‘Let’s go, Lanka, let’s go’ and a loud roar from all the UK supporters just before a deafening cheer came from the latter. Everyone stood in awe as the key player, Goal Shooter of the UK team, makes a goal milliseconds before the ringing of the umpire’s whistle signals the end of the finals.
The UK team had prevailed and won the mixed Netball match, a well-deserved win after the taxing shenanigans of last night and the ruthless match Sri Lanka had in store for them.
Finals (UK vs Sri Lanka) (5-4)
Congratulations to the UK team for winning the Netball championships for Nations Cup 2019!!
Written by Gabriele Kepartono and Raihanah Binti Kamarul Azman
Photos by Weiyu Xu