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Netball: Trinidad test for Sunshine Girls

Published:Friday | March 25, 2011 | 3:00 AM
Members of the Trinidad and Tobago netball team at the Norman Manley International Airport yesterday, shortly after their arrival in the island. The Trinidadians are here to face Jamaica in a three-Test series. The opening match will be played today at G.C. Foster College. - Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer

Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer

A strong Jamaica Sunshine Girls team will oppose Caribbean rivals Trinidad and Tobago in today's opening match of their three-Test series at the G.C. Foster College in St Catherine, starting at 7:30 p.m.

The Connie Francis-coached Sunshine Girls will enter today's encounter oozing with confidence, following their 1-1 series draw against the world's number-one rated team, Australia, in January.

The Jamaicans are ranked fourth in the world, four places above the Trinidadians who are eighth in the rankings.

The Sunshine Girls team also includes some of the world's best players in goal attack Simone Forbes, centre Nadine Bryan and defenders Nicole Aiken and Althea Byfield.

"Based on our history against Trinidad, I expect us to win," Francis said. "Trinidad won't be an easy team to beat ... they are our biggest Caribbean rivals and, like us, they are also preparing for the World Netball Championships," she said.

"I know that whenever we go up against each other, the scores do not always reflect the type of game that Trinidadians play against us because they are very determined and they are a team that we do respect," Francis said.

Francis added that like the Trinidadians, the Jamaicans will be using the series as part of their preparations for the World Netball Championships, which will be held in Singapore in June.

EMPHASIS ON WINNING

"The main emphasis will be on winning," Francis said. However, she added that all the players will be on trial and the upcoming games give them a chance to go out and impress the selectors who will be watching the series.

On the other hand, Trinidad and Tobago's coach, Australian Karen Worland, who along with the rest of her squad arrived in the island yesterday, said they are very upbeat about the series.

"We are confident we can put on a good performance because we have been preparing for a number of months since the Commonwealth Games and we have a strong squad of 15 players," said Worland.

"Our team is strong because we have strong shooters and we have speed through the midcourt," she said.

Worland added: "We also have height in defence and these players are good at intercepting the ball and so we are really looking forward to this opportunity to play against a top-ranked team like Jamaica."

Jamaica's full squad: Jhanelle Fowler, Ann-Kay Griffith, Kimone Tulloch, Paula Thompson, Kameika Sherwood, Nicole Aiken, Althea Byfield, Simone Forbes, Nadine Bryan, Naudia Brown, Tracey-Ann Robinson and Tashana Bloomfield .

The second match will be played tomorrow and the third game on Sunday at the same venue.