Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S senior netball team captain Perpetua Siyachitema says they are ready for their opponents at the Hong Kong Tri-nations tournament starting today at Kowloon Park Sports Centre. The tournament runs until Sunday and will see hosts Hong Kong, Zimbabwe and Malaysia fighting for honours. Zimbabwe take on Malaysia today in the opening match and, being their first international tournament, Siyachitema said they are excited to be taking part in it.
“We are so excited. We are prepared to face the Asians and it means so much to us to be taking part in this tournament. “It’s our first time to play countries from Asia and we understand they have a different type of play from ours. But I am sure we are going to try and cope. The girls are so excited.
“Everyone is geared up for the matches and we are really happy especially for the exposure we are going to get,” said Siyachitema.
The Glow Petroleum player-coach said they are gunning for success as they move a gear up in their build-up for the Africa Championships in June.
“I think we are going to win and this tournament we are going to take it as practice session again for the Africa Championships since we are the reigning champions,” said Siyachitema.
The team arrived in Hong Kong on Tuesday.
Speaking just before their departure on Monday, Zimbabwe Netball Association president, Leticia Chipandu said she is optimistic of positive results in Hong Kong.
“I am very optimistic that we are going to pull through, I am very positive of winning. We are banking on our strength and endurance and the girls are physically fit and mentally prepared.
“They have been playing in the league for a long time and I don’t see why this would shock them when they meet the other teams. We play round robin and then there are positional play-offs,” said Chipandu.
The team played Hong Kong Under-21 side yesterday and won 67-22.
“The win is motivating for the girls. Tomorrow’s (today) game is very crucial to boost the girls’ confidence,” Chipandu said.
And the tournament promises to be a tightly-contested one with Zimbabwe coming in as the best ranked side at number 17 on the world rankings while Malaysia sit on position 19.
Hong Kong are ranked 26.
The tournament is a world-ranking competition and the Zimbabwean side, under the guidance of coach Ledwin Dondo, will be hoping to utilise this opportunity to improve their ranking.
The team has in the past struggled to get funding to attend such international events.