From 1-9 September, Asia’s top netball teams will battle it out to qualify for the Netball World Cup 2019.
The Regional Qualifier – Asia doubles up as the Asian Netball Championships, with 12 teams competing. Of the 12 teams participating in the championships, only nine are eligible for World Cup qualification: Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Maldives, India, and Pakistan. Japan, Brunei, and the Philippines are associated, rather than full members of the International Netball Federation, and not yet positioned in the world rankings, so are unable to qualify.
The top two eligible finishers at the tournament, which takes place in Kallang – Singapore, will secure the two qualification places available in Liverpool next summer.
The tournament will consist of three stages with teams playing round-robin matches within four preliminary groups of three. Depending on their finishing positions in their initial groups, teams will then be seeded into three groups for the second phase of the competition – another round-robin format – before placings and play-offs matches conclude their final positions.
Singapore have appeared at nine World Cups and played host to the quadrennial event when it came to Asia for the first time in 1983 and most recently in 2011. In 1983 they ranked eighth in the world – their highest ever position.
Sri Lanka and Malaysia are likely to be fierce contenders for the qualification spots, having also been regular competitors at the World Cup. In 2011 Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Malaysia finished within one place of each other; Sri Lanka 14th, Singapore 15th and Malaysia 16th whilst in 2015 Singapore beat Sri Lanka 59-32 positioning 15th and 16th respectively in the final World Cup standings.
With a championship title and an opportunity to compete in netball’s pinnacle event at stake, the Regional Qualifier – Asia could prove to be a closely fought contest, particularly between the dominant teams Singapore, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.