Ellina Mhlanga-Senior Sports Reporter
THE Gems crashed to a heavy defeat at the hands of a rampant South Africa yesterday, going down 27-78, in their first encounter at the Africa Netball Cup in Windhoek, Namibia.
The tournament, which runs until November 16, got underway yesterday.
Although they got off to a promising start, going toe-to-toe with their opponents in the opening quarter, they could not maintain the momentum.
Captain Felisitus Kwangwa led from the defence, together with Tatenda Dziva, and they initially had their moments.
The first quarter ended 16-11 in favour of South Africa. The South Africans then stretched the lead in the second quarter and the half-time score was 35-21.
They returned to stamp their dominance in the third quarter, utilising every chance they got, and loose balls by Zimbabwe.
The Gems were restricted to just two goals in this quarter, which ended 58-23.
Zimbabwe coach. Lloyd Makunde, said they gave too much respect to their opponents.
“I think we gave them too much respect and we had too many unforced errors as well,” he said.
However, he said the huge defeat didn’t mean his players were a hopeless lot.
“I think they are good enough to play anyone here in Africa,’’ said Makunde, whose team will play Namibia today.
“We played Namibia before, we won and we have to be cautious because they also want to win against us.
“We are going to play our normal game, the one we played against them and, hopefully, we will be victorious.’’
South Africa captain, Bongiwe Msomi, said they were grateful to be back on the court.
“Firstly, we are grateful that we could come here. I think every players wants to be able to compete with Covid-19 being obviously a struggle for all of us, so this is really great.
“This is Africa Cup and we are excited to be here but to be honest we expected more.
“This is international netball and it’s actually physical so for us it’s about stepping out on court and learning every day and I really have to say I am grateful and I am pleased that we played today,” said Msomi.
In other matches Malawi beat Zambia 70-36 and Uganda prevailed over Tanzania 77-29.