Ellina Mhlanga in LIVERPOOL, England
DESPITE a 43-59 defeat at the hands of Malawi yesterday at the M&S Bank Arena, Zimbabwe’s Gems remain in the run for a top six finish at the ongoing Vitality Netball World Cup in Liverpool.
The Gems have had a remarkable performance at the tournament but yesterday they found the going tough when losing to Malawi.
They were down a 8-12 by the end of the quarter and as they made unforced errors and losing possession now and again.
Malawi carried their dominance into the second stanza and were up 28-18 by half time.
Coach Lloyd Makunde made several changes, as early as the first quarter, hoping his side would fight back when he brought in Sharon Bwanali for Ursula Ndlovu, who was struggling. But Malawi continued to enjoy the upper hand throughout to claim a 59-43 victory.
And shooting accuracy also made the difference with Malawi’s goal-shooter Joyce Mvula making 43 of the 43 shots, and goal attack Jane Chimaliro had 18 out of 20 shots.
“I thought we had a good start but then we made unforced errors in the first quarter and throughout the game which cost us the game, it’s very unfortunate.
“Malawi is a powerhouse, we had the chance to beat them but then losing to them is a respectable loss.
“Malawi was number six for more than three years in the world. They are only ninth now but then they are a good side, so its not a bad loss,” said Makunde.
Despite the defeat Zimbabwe are still in the run for the top six finish as they will take on the third-placed team from Group G in a play-off match today.
The winner from the game will then take the winner from the other match featuring Group F3 third placed team and Group G fourth place team to determine who goes on to play for fifth and sixth position.
“We are sitting on eighth place now, a feat which is something to write home about, something to cheer about, to be proud of,’’ said Makunde. “We are not content on being where we are now. We can get better and get a better position.’’
Away from the court, there has been some disgruntlement in the Gems camp as they are still to get their allowances amid revelations they have so far received US$500 only. There are indications also the national association executive is taking its time to have the players sign contracts for their appearance at the World Cup.
Malawi assistant coach Whyte Mulilima commended Zimbabwe for a good game.
Zimbabwe: Joice Takaidza, Ursual Ndlovu, Perpetua Siyachitema, Patricai Mauladi, Claris Kwaramba, Felistus Kwangwa, Rudo Karume.
Subs: Sharon Bwanali, Pauline Jani, Ndaizivei Madzikangava, Sharleen Makusha, Adelaide Muskwe.
Malawi: Joyce Mvula, Jane Chimaliro, Bridget Kumwenda, Takondwa Lazi, Grace Mwafulirwa, Caroline Mtukule, Towera, Vinkhumbo.
Subs: Thandie Galleta, Joanna Kachilika, Alinafe Kamwala, Loreen Ngwira, Sindi Simtowe.