BY MPHATSO MALIDADI:
Malawi national netball team, the Queens, have breathed a sigh of relief after qualifying automatically for the 2019 Liverpool Netball World Cup, following latest International Netball Federation (INF) world rankings released on Sunday.
The Queens, who are ranked sixth in the world, have benefited from the fact that second-ranked England have qualified for the competition as hosts.
Following the development, five more teams have qualified automatically based on the rankings.
Therefore, Malawi will, at the World Cup, join Australia (number one), New Zealand (third), Jamaica (fourth) and South Africa (fifth). The competition is equivalent to the Fifa World Cup finals.
Local netball expert, Chimwemwe Nyirenda, said the latest development means that results of Africa Netball Championship, which will take place in Lusaka, Zambia from August 13 to 19, will not affect the Queens and South Africa’s participation at the World Cup.
“This is because of their respective superior INF world rankings. However, other African countries will fight for qualification spots in Lusaka. The Queens gained more points at the last Commonwealth Games [in Australia] after beating New Zealand who were then the world’s number two team on INF rankings,” he said.
Nyirenda said INF releases the list of qualified teams in advance for their planning and commercial reasons among others.
“We [Malawi] have also qualified for the Fast5 Netball World Series which will take place in Australia in October. However, we need to avoid losing to teams that are ranked below us as this could affect our future rankings. But for now, we are safe,” he said.
Netball Association of Malawi General Secretary, Carol Bapu, said they were relieved with the development but will not relax.
“We still need to participate in international competitions so as to gain more points and move away from teams that are closing in on us on the rankings,” she said.
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