After an intense five-day Oceania Netball World Cup qualifiers tournament in Suva’s Vodafone Arena, Tonga and Fiji have cemented their places by qualifying for the upcoming Netball World Cup which will be held in South Africa next year.
The Tonga Tala continued their impressive performance to become the first team from the Pacific islands to qualify for Netball World Cup 2023 hosted by city of Cape Town. This is the first time Tonga has qualified for the netball world cup.
Tonga was too strong and remained undefeated throughout the tournament – pulling off a clean sweep.
Captain Tala Hulita Veve was instrumental for her team as she clinically dictated the plays from centre court and controlled the pace of the games until the final whistle. Veve truly showed quality leadership skills when put under pressure.
Rising netball star and goal shooter Uneeq Palavi was at her tremendous best – she made scoring goals look so easy in that semicircle. Palavi was the highest point scorer of the tournament, and it will be no surprise if tier 1 nations come and try to recruit her.
Tonga will definitely be the dark horse coming into the World Cup next year.
On the other hand, the Fiji Pearls, who are in a rebuilding phase, became the second and final team to qualify for the Netball World Cup. Fiji was under a lot of pressure from the beginning as hosts of the qualifying tournament. The expectation of wins proved to be a heavy burden for the Fijian women.
The Pearls had to fight hard for that second place against a fired up Samoa side in a thrilling encounter with the close result of 45 – 43 to Fiji. It was probably the best game of the tournament as both teams were evenly matched.
Coach Unaisi Rokoura believes the team will be quick to find ways to better their performance.
Currently Fiji is ranking 14th in the world while Tonga is still yet to be ranked in the international ladder.
The Netball World Cup will be held from 28 July to 6 August, 2023 in South Africa.