England's netballers now know their opponents in the round robin stages of the 12th World Netball Championships, after the draw was conducted today in Auckland by Molly Rhone, president of the International Federation of Netball Associations (IFNA).
England, seeded fourth, thanks to their final position in the last World Championships, will face fifth ranked South Africa plus Barbados and Malaysia in the group stages of the competition.
The top five ranked teams from the 2003 competition in Jamiaca - world champions New Zealand, runners-up Australia, Jamaica and South Africa - were given seeded positions, while Fiji was also given a protected place as the original host of the championships.
Meanwhile, the other home nations taking part have been set some stern challenges, with Wales grouped with World Champions New Zealand, as well as the athletic and unpredictable sides from Malawi and Botswana, while Scotland has been grouped with Australia, plus former world champions Trinidad and Tobago and Samoa.
The 2007 World Championships, which take place from 10-17 November in Auckland, will comprise teams from1 6 countries drawn from Oceania, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas. This is the first competition where teams have had to qualify to attend: previously entry was open to all countries regardless of their ranking.
The sections as drawn today are as follows:
Group A: New Zealand, Wales, Malawi, Botswana
Group B: Australia, Trinidad & Tobago, Samoa, Scotland
Group C: Jamaica, Fiji, Singapore, Cook Islands
Group D: England, South Africa, Barbados, Malaysia
The top two teams from each group will progress to the knockout stages, quarter finals, semi finals and finals.
England’s netballers start their preparations for Auckland with a test series against the world’s top two, Australia and New Zealand, on home soil from 13-17 May 07. And head coach Margaret Caldow relishes the challenges ahead:
“While the players and I know we have more to do, it will be important for us to know exactly where we sit re our preparations for Auckland. We are very much looking forward to playing the worlds number one and two teams.”
England face New Zealand at the MEN Arena on 13 May 07, and Australia at Earl’s Court on 17 May 07, while New Zealand plays Australia at the NIA Birmingham on 15 May 07. Tickets are available from the venue box offices, but are selling fast.
For further information, please visit www.englandnetball.co.uk.
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photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images