Veronica Gwaze in POLOKWANE, South Africa
AFTER suffering another heartbreaking blow against SA President’s XII yesterday at the pulsating Diamond Challenge which ends today at Ngoako Ramathlodi Stadium, Zimbabwe senior netball team saw their hopes for a second place finish fade away.
The Gems were handed 58-34 defeat.
After yesterday’s matches, South Africa are top on the log standings with eight points and a 100 percent record while SA President’s XII are second and two points behind.
Zimbabwe and Zambia each have four points and after suffering two defeats apiece.
Already falling by four scores with less than three minutes to play, Zimbabwe rose to reduce the gap displaying a much composed and synchronised play than in previous games.
Passing gaffes by the opponents, who were visibly feeling the mounting pressure saw Zimbabwe take advantage, to maintain a balanced battle.
By the first quarter, Zimbabwe were trailing 10-15, a narrow margin compared to other teams that had suffered defeats at the hands of the SA President’s XII.
A minute into the second quarter, captain Pepertua Siyachitema was substituted for Ndaizivei Madzikangava who failed to fill the skipper’s shoes creating a yawning gap that cost the Gems.
Failing to keep up, five widened to 11 and the Gems, in trying to reduce the arrears, rushed their passes and lost chances at a crucial stage. Despite the defeat Gems coach Lloyd Makunde still reserved some praises for his team.
“SA President’s XII are a developmental side for the Spar Proteas, they are as good as them and we didn’t expect a win, but rather to test ourselves and learn a thing or two.
“I am happy with how the team played today, their coordination and combinations were better and had things fallen into shape like this in the battle against Zambia we would have won the game.
“Today was tough, but the girls did not lose focus, they continued to motivate each other which is good for the team,” said Makunde.
He said, had his defence been on point yesterday, the Gems could have sung a different song.
“While we had few cases of inaccurate passes, missing shooters and trivial mistakes we need to work on our defence.