Dambo wins MVP as Queens settle for silver
Malawi National Netball Team’s quest for their first Africa Netball Championship crown since 2013 ended in vain as the Queens finished second behind champions South Africa in Pretoria.
During yesterday’s final, Queens started strongly but gave away the match in the second quarter to eventually lose 60-44 to the hosts at the end of the final whistle.
The only solace from yesterday’s humbling loss was that goal defender Martha Dambo was named most valuable player justifying her inclusion in the starting line up at the expense of captain Caroline Mtukule-Ngwira.
However, the Queens are yet to reclaim the continental championship since they surrendered it on home soil in 2013.
Nevertheless, the Queens achieved their overall mission, which was to qualify for the 2023 Netball World Cup, having dropped on World Rankings to position seven from six thereby granting sixth-placed Uganda an automatic qualification slot.
Queens coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa featured a familiar line-up and her charges matched Spar Proteas in the first quarter in all the departments. At the end of the first quarter, the match was tied at 13-up.
Things turned ugly for the Queens in the second quarter when South Africa goalkeeper Phumza Mawemi and goal defender Nicola Smith tightened their zone.
The duo especially Mawemi frustrated Malawi’s shooter Joyce Mvula, who started missing the target from what appeared as close angles.
Mawemi was also good at interceptions and grabbing rebounds giving no room to Queens’ attackers who were daydreaming.
Malawi reacted by pulling out Mvula for Sindie Simtowe- Msowoya but even though she converted some baskets she struggled when penetrating South Africa’s defence.
South Africa led comfortably 29-22 at half time.
At the start of the third quarter, Mvula reclaimed her position and seemed to have calmed her nerves when she converted some baskets.
However, she then missed the target from under the net and this affected her performance.
In defence, the Queens were also struggling to contain South Africa attackers.
At the end of the third quarter, South Africa cemented their lead to 45-31.
At this moment, Chawinga- Kaluwa was forced to make several changes to turn around the match, which was already out of reach.
For the first time, budding shooter Tendai Masamba, who had replaced Mvula, was able to produce a better performance unlike in the previous games.
Wing defender Martha Dambo won the best defender award.
Chawinga-Kaluwa told SuperSport that they gave away the match.
“We started well but we gave away the match in the second quarter because our shooter missed some chances,” she said in reference to Mvula.
However, she said she was proud of her team having qualified for the 2023 Cape Town Netball World Cup.
Queens alongside third-placed Zimbabwe, who defeated Zambia, have joined South Africa and Uganda who already qualified for the world showpiece.
South Africa qualified by virtue of being the hosts while Uganda are the best ranked team in Africa besides Spar Proteas.
In individual awards, Dambo, who won the player of the match when Queens beat Zambia, emerged top player.
South Africa dominated the individual awards with Elmere van der Berg winning the best shooter award while Khanyisa Chawane and Shadine van der Merwe won the best mid-court and defender awards respectively.