Netball | SPORTS

Pearls Not Taking Their Chances, Must Win Qualifier

They know what is expected of the side as they host the Oceania Netball World Cup Qualifier at the Vodafone Arena in Suva starting on Tuesday.
14 Jul 2022 13:30
Pearls Not Taking Their Chances, Must Win Qualifier
The Fiji Pearls team and officials after their traning at the Vodafone Arena, Suva, on July 13, 2022. Back (from left): Pau Vakawaletabua (physiotherapist), Vilisi Tavui, Kelera Nawai, Nina Cirikisuva, Ema Mualuvu and head coach Unaisi Rokoura. Middle (from left): Ateca Qasenivalu, Maria Lutua Rusivakula (vice captain), Avelina Navue, Afa Rusivakula, Vakaoca Vulakoro and Maliana Rusivakula. Sitting: Talei Waqainabete, Jimaima Kete, Kalesi Tawake, Unaisi Rauluni and captain Alisi Naqiri. Photo: Sereana Salalo

The Fiji Pearls will play every game like it’s their last, says head coach Unaisi Rokoura.

They know what is expected of the side as they host the Oceania Netball World Cup Qualifier at the Vodafone Arena in Suva starting on Tuesday.

The Pearls take on Papua New Guinea at 5:30pm; Tonga and Samoa play at 7:30pm while Cook Islands will be on bye.

Rokoura said with Samoa winning the last qualifier, the Pearls are de­termined to book a place at next year’s World Cup in South Africa.

“This is a major and critical com­petition for us, the World Cup quali­fier,” Rokoura said.

“Going into next week, we know we are ranked fourth in this compe­tition.

“Tonga beat us recently, Samoa won the last qualifiers and realisti­cally we have no idea how Cook Is­lands along with Papua New Guin­ea.”

These past few weeks, the side have been focusing on their attack and defending strategies.

The team has been in camp for the past week including overseas-based players Kelera Nawai, Maria Lutua, Vakaoca Bolakoro and Vilisi Tavui.

She said the senior players like Lutua, captain Alisi Naqiri and the Rusivakula sisters – Afa and Mali­ana have blended in well with the newcomers.

“At the moment the morale is very high, the girls are focusing at the task on hand,” Rokoura said.

“This week is just fine tuning, put­ting the pieces together and clean­ing up what we need to fix.

“It’s always a different story to play at home. You have the home crowd behind you, at the end of the day it’s a lot of pressure to perform.

“We believe in every player we have selected the 15 who they know the task at hand and what’s in place for us.

“It’s either now or never. Every game we play, is like playing our last game and the girls know that.”

According to the World Netball ranking in March; 14th is Cook Is­lands with 82 points, Fiji is ranked 15th with 70 points, Samoa 16th with 68 points and Papua New Guinea is ranked 35th with 11 points.

Feedback: sereana.salalo@fijisun.com.fj



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