Malawi National Netball Team began their hunt for the Africa Netball Cup with an improved but not satisfactory performance when they defeated Zambia 70-36 at Wanderers Sports Club in Windhoek, Namibia, Tuesday.
Continental glory has eluded the Queens since 2016 and, in-between, Uganda’s She- Cranes have dominated, winning it three times before South Africa’s Spar Proteas grabbed it in 2019.
Malawi and Zambia also met during Pent Series last week and the Queens triumphed 76-32.
Queens coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa recalled experienced captain Carol Mtukule- Ngwira and wing attacker Bridget Kumwenda to the starting line-up after their pair started on the bench during the last two games of the Pent Series.
Youngster Flora Chipeta and seasoned goal defender Martha Dambo were relegated to the bench to pave the way for the experienced duo.
The Queens were stubborn in defence, where Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda made some interceptions, and lively in attack, with Joyce Mvula scoring freely.
The first quarter ended 18-9 in favour of the Queens. At half time, the Queens were comfortably leading 34-18.
Queens upped the game in the third quarter to lead 51-28 before making several substitutions in the last quarter but still won the game.
Chawinga-Kaluwa was pleased with her team’s performance but said she expected the Queens to improve further.
“I knew Zambia would come hard on us. However, the players have improved as they were able to hold fast breaks. They were able to hold on to the ball. It is very good to win the first match. I have noted a lot of improvement.
“In the first games, we were falling short on coordination and it made it impossible for us to move the balls but, after rectifying, the defenders were able to intercept.
“The girls played exceptionally well,” she said.
Mtukule-Ngwira said they followed the coach’s instructions.
“The coach told us to play our game and we also worked on our mistakes,” she said.
Zambia coach Charles Zulu was equally impressed with his charges but faulted them for making a lot of turnovers.
“It was a physical game. We started well but we made a lot of turnovers. We kept on fighting against Malawi because they are a big team,” he said.
The Queens will meet Botswana this afternoon.
In other games played Tuesday, holders South Africa thrashed Zimbabwe 78-27 whereas Uganda overcame Tanzania 77-29.
Action will continue tomorrow, with the Queens taking on Zimbabwe before entertaining rivals South Africa on Friday.
Malawi will continue with the hunt for silverware when they entertain Kenya on Saturday before clashing against the hosts, Namibia, on Sunday.
On Monday, the Queens will take on Tanzania, rest on Monday, before concluding the campaign with a tie against Uganda on November 16.