Gems finish fifth at Africa Netball Cup Gems (FILE PIC)

Ellina Mhlanga Senior Sports Reporter 

THE curtain came down on the Africa Netball Cup yesterday with Zimbabwe finishing in fifth place, out of the nine countries, which were in Windhoek, Namibia. 

South Africa retained the title, after winning all their matches, to come out tops in the tournament, played in a round-robin format. 

Uganda and Malawi were second and third. 

Zimbabwe were beaten into fourth place by hosts Namibia on goal difference. 

Gems’ coach, Lloyd Makunde, had hoped for a podium finish, at the continental showcase, but his side found the going tough. 

Captain Felisitus Kwangwa said despite some low moments, with the most disappointing defeat during the continental show-piece coming against Botswana, she was impressed with the new players who have been brought into the team. 

“Everything seemed to be okay until our loss against Botswana. But, generally, I am happy with the youngsters’ performance, which gives me hope for a bright future, in our netball journey,’’ she said. 

“Nobukhosi Ndlovu played as a centre, in almost all the games, she was the engine of the team. 

“I think we are on the right track.’’ 

Zimbabwe are on a rebuilding exercise, following the retirement, of some senior players. 

The technical team have roped in a number of new players, some from the Under-21 side, into the senior team. 

They are hoping to have a strong side which will qualify for the 2023 World Cup, to be hosted by South Africa. 

Zimbabwe first took part in the Pent Series which featured Namibia, Kenya, Zambia and Malawi before going into the Africa Cup where they were joined by South Africa, Botswana and Tanzania. 

The two tournaments presented the Gems with competitive games, after a two-year break, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Their last competition, before going to Namibia, was in 2019 at the Africa Cup, in South Africa. 

Kwangwa said the two events gave them the platform to assess themselves, after a long break, and she believes they gave it their best. 

“They were very important to the regular players so that we could see how far we are lagging behind from the teams that resumed playing before us and what we need to work on. 

“For the new players, these tournaments were confidence-boosters, that was the best, though the tournaments were so straining. 

“We need more sessions as a team.” 

The Gems captain will be heading back to England, in a few days’ time, to join her Vitality Netball Superleague club Surrey Storm, for their pre-season preparations. 

“I am expecting to leave in five days’ time and I believe I will have recovered for the pre-season,” said Kwangwa.

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