South Africa
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Mangaung fall short as Tshwane set up final against Johannesburg

Despite falling agonisingly short of a place in the final, Mangaung coach Martha Mosoahle was delighted with the performance of her squad after they put up a brave fight against tournament favourites Tshwane in their semifinal at the Spar National Netball Championships in Potchefstroom on Friday.

Having gone unbeaten in the round robin stage of the tournament, Tshwane had been expected to coast into the final against a Mangaung side which had lost three of their six matches in the opening round.

Tshwane, however, had to work hard to prevent a stunning upset, securing a narrow 30-29 victory.

“I think the girls left everything on the court. If there was a game this week they really had to win, it was this one, so the result was unfortunate, but it could have gone either way and I’m super proud of my team,” Mosoahle said.

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Targeting their fourth title in five years, after missing last year’s tournament due to a Covid outbreak in their squad, Tshwane captain Lungile Mthembu was relieved to pull off a tight win, booking their place in Saturday’s final against Johannesburg.

“We never underestimated this team (Mangaung) because we know they can compete in playoffs,” Mthembu said.

“We didn’t have a great start but I’m glad we were able to pull through. It was a tough match but it was great preparation for us ahead of the final, and hopefully we will be better tomorrow.”

Johannesburg, meanwhile, handed host district Dr Kenneth Kaunda a thumping 39-22 defeat in their semifinal, setting up a Gauteng derby in the trophy contest.

Pride on the line

After losing 34-32 to Tshwane in the round robin stage, Johannesburg coach Elsje Jordaan was confident her team could bounce back and hand their opponents a rare defeat in search of their first national title.

“Gauteng derbies are always close and tough, so I see this final as more of a pride thing than a revenge thing,” Jordaan said.

“I’m sure Tshwane will bring their best game. They had a really great semifinal. I thought Mangang gave them a real run for their money and they came through.

“They have belief in their squad, and we do too, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”