The Fiji Pearls finished third in their Pool A grouping to progress to the next Netball World Cup 2023 preliminary round where they will square off with Malawi tonight, starting at 9pm.
Despite losing to Australia Diamonds (32-101) and Tonga Tala (51-56), the Pearls who are ranked 19th managed to progress by defeating 13th-ranked Zimbabwe 52-48 in their second pool game.
The win was enough to earn them a spot in the second round of preliminary games against Malawi who finished second in their Pool B behind England, having won over Barbados and Scotland.
Fiji Pearls head coach Unaisi Rokoura was satisfied with the team’s performance.
“We had a goal coming into this world cup and that is to win our games, we manage to get the win against Zimbabwe even though we fell short against Tonga. It is always important that we focus on our own gameplay and play our own style of netball, that’s what the girls did,” Rokoura said.
Although they lost to the Diamonds by a big margin, she said the learnings from their game with the world number one was an opportunity to be cherished and invaluable in the players’ development, especially for 18-year-old Elina Drikibau, the team’s youngest member making her NWC debut.
“It is a great opportunity to play the number one team in the World, we don’t know when we will play the diamonds again. It is amazing to have these young girls mostly local base coming into the World Cup and getting that experience, and just play their style of Netball, they’re learning and growing at the same time.”
Photo: Netball Fiji