AS the curtain closes on another Commonwealth Games, we take a look back at how each of the netballing nations fared in our team-by-team review series. Next up is Uganda, a side that would be thrilled with its tournament, having finished above both Malawi and South Africa, and only losing to top four sides, England and New Zealand.
GAMES AT A GANDER
Uganda entered the Commonwealth Games on day two taking on Gold Medal hopeful New Zealand, and though the She Cranes lost, they only went down in an admirable 13-goal defeat. That loss was followed up by a huge win over Trinidad & Tobago the next day, before having to take on home nation England in the biggest challenge of the tournament. The She Cranes shooters did not have the same freedom as usual and only scored the 35 goals in a 21-goal loss, but the defeat would be marked as their last of the tournament. They easily accounted for Northern Ireland to the tune of 37 goals, then won the one they needed to against Malawi. By defeating the Queens by 13 goals, it catapulted the She Cranes into the impressive fifth placed playoff against South Africa rather than seventh placed playoff against Wales. Then, in the perfect first half performance, Uganda shocked the top five nation, dominating the second term to control proceedings and come away with the six-goal win to be named the best team outside the semi-finals.
It is hard to miss the consistent shooting of Mary Cholhok who starred again for the She Cranes, putting up 156 goals from 175 attempts, while also having 15 goal assists and eight rebounds. It is easy to forget Cholhok only just turned 25, and will be around for a while yet. Others who impressed include midcourter Stella Oyella who produced a team-high 106 goal assists from 164 feeds, and was able to feed the shooters. Oyella also snatched five intercepts and four deflections across the six matches. Shaffie Nalwanja held up well in the defensive goal circle, with the 23-year-old picking up eight intercepts, 22 deflections and two rebounds in a strong tournament.
The Ugandan squad as a whole is well balanced between experienced older players and rising stars, with many still in their low-to-mid 20s. Shadiah Nassanga turns 22 next month, and was able to be that third scoring option with an accurate 50 goals from 54 attempts, and also 34 goal assists across four games. Sandra Nambirige was the youngest in the squad having just turned 20 at the start of the tournament, and managed seven intercepts and 17 deflections from wing defence, playing all six games. Margret Baagala (also 20) played five games and had 45 goal assists from 61 feeds, two intercepts and two deflection in centre.
Uganda had its moments throughout the Commonwealth Games, and while the Roses and Silver Ferns had a bit too much depth to handle, the huge upset over the SPAR Proteas was fantastic for the She Cranes. Not only did it mean they finished fifth, but also ended the tournament as the top ranked African side, a goal they undoubtedly want to achieve if they can overtake the Proteas.