Slow & rusty start cost us the win, says S'pore coach Aitken

A slow start cost Singapore victory in their Mission Foods Nations Cup opener yesterday.

The hosts, ranked 15th, went down 43-44 to No. 16 Papua New Guinea (PNG) at the OCBC Arena in a netball match that had always promised to be a close affair. Last year, only five goals separated the pair as Singapore won 47-42.

Yesterday, PNG raced to a 5-1 lead midway through the first quarter. While Singapore closed the gap to just two goals by the end of the first 15 minutes of play to 9-11, the hosts were condemned to playing catch-up the rest of the match, eventually losing by just one goal.

Said national head coach Ruth Aitken: "It was a pretty up-and-down game. The start was a bit of a nightmare, it was very rusty... and the poor start cost us the game because PNG's confidence got up and it was really hard for us to break that.

"But I was pleased that we really picked ourselves up after that (the slow start) and really fought our way back into the game."

A cold spell from goal-shooter Charmaine Soh did not help matters. Said Soh, who sank only 70 per cent of her attempts: "We have to give credit to the PNG defenders but it all boils down to me. I just need to focus on the game and just put the ball in."

Yasmin Ho, making a first appearance at the Nations Cup since 2008, kept the hosts in the game with her 81 per cent effort.

Singapore play world No. 12 Northern Ireland, the highest-ranked side in the week-long tournament, today. The key to beating Northern Ireland, said vice-captain Nurul Baizura, is "to give 120 per cent and put in an all-out effort from the start and not be too casual".

In other matches, Northern Ireland defeated Botswana 41-37 while debutants Chinese Taipei lost 25-57 to a Singapore invitational side.

vankang@sph.com.sg

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This article was first published on December 14, 2015.
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