Australia’s draw for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow has been finalised with the national netball team set to face four of the world’s top 10 countries in its pool matches.
Australia hit the court for the first time in the second game of the opening day of the netball competition on July 24; taking on the improving Wales, ranked a best ever number eight in the world.
England, the world number three-ranked country, will be Australia’s second opponent with consecutive games against Caribbean nations Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago to follow before they wrap up their pool B campaign against South Africa.
Pool A is made up of reigning Commonwealth Games gold medalist New Zealand, Jamaica, Malawi, Northern Ireland, St Lucia and host Scotland.
Australian coach Lisa Alexander said it’s a challenging draw but one she’s looking forward to tackling as the team strives to win its first Commonwealth Games gold medal since 2002.
“Hitting Wales first, we’ll know we’re alive straight up,” Alexander said.
“They’ve really improved and they play a New Zealand-style game, so that’s going to be good preparation for us for what we might meet later on in the tournament.
“Playing England second match, we’ll also know where we’re at. We hit it hard at the start and, as we always do, we take each game at a time.
“But certainly it’s going to be an exciting tournament and the quality is going to be absolutely fantastic from the outset.”
Having won the past six Tests against New Zealand and Malawi, Alexander said there’s a positive mood around the squad with players to gather again in early December for a training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
“We’re calling our athlete preparation camp in December `Going For Gold’,” Alexander said.
“That’s where we’ll really kick it off and hopefully it sets the girls up for a great pre-season leading into the ANZ Championship and that then translates into us producing great performances in Glasgow.
“I think the Diamonds have a bit of their aura back again.”
AUSTRALIA’S 2014 COMMONWEALTH GAMES DRAW
(all times are AEST, all matches played at the Scottish Exhibition and Convention Centre)
Thursday, July 24: Australia v Wales, 10.30pm
Saturday, July 26: Australia v England, 6.30pm
Sunday, July 27: Australia v Barbados, 8.30pm
Monday, July 28: Australia v Trinidad and Tobago, 8.30pm
Wednesday, July 30: Australia v South Africa, 6.30pm
Saturday, August 2: SEMI-FINALS, 7pm and 9.15pm
Sunday, August 3: Bronze Medal match, 7pm, GOLD MEDAL MATCH, 9.30pm