S'pore & Malaysia face off

S'pore & Malaysia face off
Singapore goal shooter Charmaine Soh (left) and goal attacker Chen Huifen during the 73-20 win over India in their final Group A fixture of the Asian Netball Championship.

Malaysia finished second in Group B of the Mission Foods Asian Netball Championship after losing 62-66 to Sri Lanka yesterday.

Victory would have earned them top spot in Group B, allowing them to avoid defending champions Singapore, who topped Group A with a 73-20 victory over India at the Sports Hub's OCBC Arena. But they are confident that they have enough fire-power to cause Singapore problems in tomorrow's semi-finals, while Sri Lanka take on Hong Kong.

At stake is not just a place in the final, but also a spot in next year's Netball World Cup, automatically awarded to the two Asian finalists.

Said Malaysia coach Choo Kon Lee: "We pushed Sri Lanka hard and the battling display in that match by our girls has given us confidence that we can defeat Singapore, who I feel are just on a par with us.

"Our goal shooter Norashikin (Kamal Zaman) had a great game against Sri Lanka and I think she will be the difference between us and Singapore."

While Norashikin, with 130 goals in this tournament, is fourth behind Sri Lanka's Tharjini Sivalingam (211 goals), Hong Kong's Krystle Edwards (134) and Singapore's Charmaine Soh (132) - the 1.85m goal shooter's agility makes her a constant danger.

Against Sri Lanka, Norashikin managed to manoeuvre around goalkeeper Gayani Dissanayake (1.85m) and goal defender Chaturangi Jayasooriya (1.83m)to get 50 shots on goal, scoring 43.

She also helped create space for goal attacker Izyan Syazana, whose 28 attempts on goal led to 19 conversions.

After the India game, Singapore coach Ruth Aitken also singled out Norashikin as a potential danger in tomorrow's semi-final.

"She is very capable in not only putting away her shots but also creating space and chances for her partner in attack," she said.

"What we have to do now (to nullify her threat) is fine-tune our own game plan to let everyone know their roles on the court."

Captain Lin Qingyi said: "Norashikin and Izyan's movement in attack is quick but we've worked on defending against such play in training before so it's nothing new to us," said Lin.

"We are confident we can halt their supply of chances but we need our midfielders to drop back when we are defending so they can sweep up any loose balls that our defenders will tip away from them."

"We've done it well in training, and if we can replicate that on the court on Saturday, we will be in the final."

terong@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on September 12, 2014.
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