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Malawi throw off World Cup with loss

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By Mphatso Malidadi:

Malawi national netball team’s quest to rise again on world rankings faces a big stumbling block after opening the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup campaign with a 64-45 loss to fourth-ranked New Zealand at M & S Bank Arena in Liverpool, England Friday.

Now the Queens must do well against Singapore this afternoon and Barbados tomorrow to make it to the quarterfinals.

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Both Malawi and New Zealand are on serious rebuilding exercises after falling on International Netball Federation rankings. The Queens are ninth from sixth.

It was going to be a tough assignment as Malawi Coach Griffin Saenda Senior put his trust in goal shooter Joyce Mvula and Sindie Simtowe-Msowoya in attack with wing attacker Thandie Galeta and centre Takondwa Lwazi-Mtonga providing linking defence and attack.

Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda, Caroline Mtukule-Ngwira and Grace Mwafulirwa-Mhango marshalled the defence to keep an eye on Silver Ferns’ attackers.

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The opening stages of the first quarter were balanced with both teams utilising centre passes but it was New Zealand who led 17-11 at the end.

In this quarter, Malawi had seven turnovers which contributed to Silver Ferns’ lead. New Zealand only recorded four turnovers.

At the start of the second quarter, Malawi were dealt a blow after in-form shooter Mvula was replaced by Alinafe Kamwala.

The move was a precautionary measure as Mvula is still recuperating from a knee injury.

The move proved to be a setback as it took Malawi five minutes to register their first goal in this quarter, allowing Silver Ferns to stretch the lead.

Realising that the game was steadily slipping away from their hands, the Queens pulled out ineffective Kamwala and Galeta for Jane Chimaliro and Bridget Kumwenda-Chalera, respectively.

The change at least brought some life into the team but not the spark it required as Malawi trailed 32-17 at half time.

At the start of third quarter, Saenda substituted Mtukule- Ngwira for Lauren Ngwira while Simtowe-Msowoya made way for Mvula.

The return of Mvula renewed Queens’ fighting spirit but the Silver Ferns were in no mood to let Malawi take control of the game. The quarter ended 49-30 in New Zealand’s favour.

It was a similar trend in the fourth quarter, with Silver Ferns claiming the much-needed victory.

It was a perfect revenge for New Zealand considering that they lost to the Queens 57-53 in the Commonwealth Games last year.

Saenda said New Zealand were tough but promised to make amends in the next two games.

New Zealand Coach, Noeline Taurua, said it was a dream start for her charges.

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