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Do or die for Cook Islands netters

The Cook Islands netters cannot afford to lose another match if they want to qualify for the 2023 Netball World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa.

They came into the Oceania Netball World Cup Qualifiers (ONWCQ) as the top-ranked team in the tournament, but are now at the crossroads after losing 54-35 to Samoa.

The Cook Islands are ranked 14th, Fiji 15th, Samoa 16th and Papua New Guinea 35th, while Tonga is the only unranked team.

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Samoa, Fiji, and the Cook Islands have suffered one loss each and another loss would mean ending all hopes for a spot in the netball World Cup.

Cook Islands head coach Joy Bates said this meant the girls have to win their last two games and losing was not an option.

“Yes, we did not get the result that we wanted out of this game but we as a team believe that we are very much in it and we cannot lose the next two games, which will be against Tonga and Fiji,” Bates said.

Cook Islands defenders trying to shut down a relentless Samoan offence during their Oceania Netball World Cup qualifiers at the Vodafone Arena, Laucala Bay, Suva. Picture: Fiji Netball

“So for us, the ranking does not really put any pressure on the players as we are celebrating five new mothers and eight debutants playing for us in this tournament. We are rebuilding.”

Their team comprises local players, playing in the eight clubs of their domestic competitions. The Cook Islands focus has been to give locally based players the first option to be selected for national duties.

The Cook Islands will play Tonga today and will finish off the tournament against hosts Fiji on Saturday, July 23 at the Vodafone Arena in Suva.

Samoan netters reloads against Cook Islands during their matchup in the Oceania Netball World Cup Qualifiers at the Vodafone Arena, Laucala Bay, Suva. Picture: Fiji Netball

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