Gems fail to meet expectations Ropafadzo Mutsauki

Innocent Kurira

GEMS coach Ropafadzo Mutsauki admits the team failed to meet expectations at the just-ended African Netball Championships but is hopeful that if the present squad is kept together they have the potential to achieve great things.

The Zimbabwe senior women’s netball team finished third at the tournament after beating Botswana 53-44 in the third place play-off match.

Before that, Zimbabwe had won 47-28, 51-10 and 58-48 against Kenya, Zambia and Eswatini respectively. The Gems’ only defeat came when they suffered a 45-36 defeat in their opening game of the campaign against Namibia.

With the two top teams in the round robin fixtures playing in the final, Zimbabwe finished with eight points, the same as Zambia and Namibia who took the two top spots due to a better goal difference over Zimbabwe.

Mutsauki believes the first result took their campaign off the rails.

“The team played well. I can’t complain. The problem is we started this tournament on a very low note. This affected us largely in this tournament. I am happy we managed to win five games. It means all the top three teams managed to get eight points. Had we managed to have a good start, l think we would have been in a better position. Hopefully, this is a lesson for us in future tournaments,” said Mutsauki.

He says the present squad must be kept together as they have potential.

“I am happy for the team and l have hope that if we keep this team as it is, they will be one of the best teams in the world and not only the continent. Having a winning team is a process that can take two or three years. We have failed to meet expectations but it’s a young side which has all the potential to succeed,” said Mutsauki.

This year marked the 13th edition of the Africa Netball Championships, also known as the Africa Netball Cup.

Teams from all around Africa compete for the top spot in this biannual netball championship.

This was the Gems’ first competition since the 2023 Netball World Cup in Cape Town, where they maintained their 13th place in international rankings.

Netball’s popularity has grown in the country not only among spectators and players, but also within the corporate sector.

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