Sri Lankan skipper Gayanjali Amarawansa is confident the lasses will put up a good show and return victorious at the Asian Netball Championship which will run from 3-11 September at the OCBC Arena, Singapore.
“We were preparing from January and the team is in a good shape. We got a strong squad with 8 experience players and 4 newcomers. We are the defending champions and as a team our main priority is to defend the title at any cost,” said skipper prior to departure.
This will be the first time in three years the lasses will play a competitive tournament after Covid. They last played in the international arena back in 2019 during the World Cup in England.
Sri Lanka lasses will take the field as favourites to win the tournament based on their past record of having won this tournament most number of times (5) in 1989, 1997, 2001, 2009 and 2018.
Earlier, NFSL named a strong 12-member squad with seniors like Tharjini Sivalingam, Chathurangi Jayasooriya, Gayani Dissanayake and Hasitha Mendis to name a few.
Commenting on the importance of Tharjini’s presence in the team, the skipper went onto say: “Tharjini will join the team straight from Australia. She is the tallest netballer in the world and was also named the best shooter in a World Cup. Tharjini will play a major role in the team, and when opposition see Tharjini they take a step back; that’s a very big advantage for us.”
Tharjini is currently in Australia fulfilling her club contract and will join the squad in the coming days. The 2.10m (6 ft 10-1⁄2 in) Tharjini ended the World Cup 2019 campaign as the highest scorer with 348 points to her credit, and will look to put up a similar performance to help Sri Lanka grab their sixth Asian title.
“Happy to lead this strong squad and we have four former captains in the team and I’m getting big support from them. With the support from them and my deputy skipper Dulangi Wannithilake looking forward to put up a good show,” Gayanjali further added.
11 teams will compete at the biennial event: defending champs Sri Lanka, 2018 runner-up Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Japan, India, Philippines and Maldives.
The top two will gain automatic qualification to the 2023 Netball World Cup.
By Mustaq Sydeen