Hong Kong’s first trip to Singapore’s Nations Cup ‘a big step’ ahead of World Cup qualifying

Experience gained against teams largely ranked above them outweighs disappointment of finishing tournament in last place

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 December, 2017, 10:14pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 December, 2017, 10:14pm

It was a tough week for Hong Kong at the Nations Cup in Singapore but one that could prove a valuable stepping stone ahead of next year’s World Cup qualifying, according to coach Robin Manihera.

Hong Kong won only one match and fell 48-43 to Malaysia in Saturday’s fifth-placed play-off to finish the tournament in last place, but Manihera is hoping the saying that “you learn more from defeat than from success” rings true.

“We have never been invited to this tournament before, so the fact that Singapore even considered that we would be strong enough to come here was a big step for Hong Kong netball,” Manihera said.

“The girls have worked really hard and they have seen some of the fruits of their hard work and they’ve also learned a lot playing the different styles of the different countries.”

The Asian Championships, to be held in Singapore in September next year, act as qualifying for the 2019 World Cup in Liverpool, with the top two sides progressing.

Hong Kong fell to Malaysia by a goal in the semi-finals at last year’s Championships and Manihera hopes this week’s matches against a group of side’s largely ranked above them will ensure they know what’s required to go one better.

“Coming here has been absolutely fantastic, we’ve played teams of different styles, we’ve managed to play Malaysia and Singapore who are teams we have to get by to get to the World Cup,” she said.

Hong Kong welcome three teams in February for a four nations tournament and will continue to develop their younger players.

“We think we have the basis of a pretty good squad, traditionally we have had older players but now we have got a really good mix of experience and youth in this team,” Manihera said.

Saturday’s game saw Hong Kong leading by a goal at the final change but they ran out of legs late to go down to a Malaysian team they defeated 50-44 on Friday.

“We played our hearts out, we just ran out of a bit of legs at the end,” Hong Kong co-captain Connie Wong said. “Our legs got the best of us today, but we gave everything we could.

After a 10-year absence, former rugby star Stephanie Cuvelier is back on the netball court for Hong Kong

“Every game has been tough and we would have loved to finish on a high, but it didn’t happen. We will learn from this experience and move on. There are young players in our team whom I hope will carry on.”

Shooter Michelle Arkell was adjudged Hong Kong’s most valuable player for the tournament.