Gems engage men’s side for friendlies
Ellina Mhlanga-Senior Sports Reporter
THE Gems squad continued with their preparations for the Netball World Cup qualifiers over the weekend, taking on the men’s national select side in friendly matches at Girls High School.
They played four games and lost three but it was an opportunity for the coaches to gauge the players’ progress since they got into camp two weeks ago.
With the qualifiers drawing closer, the technical team is looking at finalising the travelling team for the event running from August 20 to 27 in Pretoria, South Africa.
The Gems lost 50-52 in the opening match. They then lost 48-49 in the second game and 27-34 in the other one.
They then won the last game 63-59.
Gems coach Ropafadzo Mutsauki said they wanted to assess the players in a game situation.
“We used the friendlies to check the fitness levels and earlier on Friday we had this test and we observed that three quarters of the team is now okay. So we are now left with team defence because when we played on Saturday, we observed that we were losing by small margins, two or three shots.
“So it shows that our fitness is now much better. We now need to work more on team defence and not leave everything to the goal defence, goal keeper and the wing defence, our midcourt need to work as well. So that’s our focus area. Of course, attacking still needs a bit of work.
“On the midcourt, it takes time because we need speed since we do not have height. So we are also working on that,” said Mutsauki.
Currently they have 19 players in camp, but South Africa-based Yeukai Chamba is expected to go back to her base tomorrow.
Mutsauki confirmed the development and said it is due to work commitments.
“Yeukai, has been doing well so far and we are going to have a challenge when she leaves because we are not sure how this will work because we wanted her with us until the end of the camp. But due to work commitments, she has to go back (to South Africa).
“We are still assessing her because she is still around today (yesterday) and tomorrow (today). So we are still assessing her so that we make a decision because we thought we would have her until the end of the camp,” said Mutsauki.
The camp is expected to run until July 31.
The technical team is expected to then name the final team that will meet again before departure.
Zimbabwe Netball Association president Letitia Chipandu said they are likely to have a short break before the travelling team returns to polish up ahead of their departure for South Africa.