Former Diamonds coach Jill McIntosh hopes Jamaica’s self-belief doesn’t disintegrate during their Netball World Cup semi-final against Australia.
But she also points out how quickly things could go wrong for the defending champions.
McIntosh, who led the Diamonds to both the 1995 and 1999 world titles, is technical director of the world No.4 Sunshine Girls, who will face top-ranked Australia in Saturday’s knockout clash.
Having worked intensely with the squad over the past few months, McIntosh is confident they have what it takes against any of the top-four sides if they can mobilise their raw physical prowess on the day.
But she was also prudent with her predictions on Friday, admitting the group can tend to psyche themselves out of a game.
“If a team puts it all together they can beat anyone. The Jamaicans are no different,” McIntosh told AAP.
“Physically they can – they’re a very talented side, physically.
“It’s just believing that they can do it and going out there and executing it.
“Sometimes that self-belief deserts them when you least expect it in the match.”
McIntosh said she’s been helping coach Minneth Reynolds eradicate any “wishy washy” play as they approach the business end of the tournament with a view to bettering the country’s highest World Cup record of third place, achieved in 1999, 2003 and 2007.
If they do, it will be an accomplishment realised by this tournament’s youngest outfit that features an average age of 23.9 years and includes two 20-year-olds and 18-year-old Kadie-Ann Dehaney.
Their youth is offset by prolific shooters and trans-Tasman tournament heavyweights Romelda Aiken and Jhaniele Fowler-Reid.
Aiken said the team needs to learn how to keep it simple on court.
“When things get really bad we just need to calm down, take a deep breath and just continue with the job,” she said.
“I think sometimes we just over-think the process of the game and it doesn’t work well in our favour.”
McIntosh approved of Australia’s World Cup line-up but said even the best players don’t always coalesce every match, pointing to the Diamonds’ upset preliminary-round loss to New Zealand.
“Individually the girls have had a very good ANZ (Championship) season, so you would think that as a team they should be able to do it,” she said.
“But it’s not always as easy as it sounds.
“You do have to do the hard yards and go out there, get the combinations and connections right and it all has to click on the night.
“It so very easily can go all wrong. Just little things trigger bad moments.”