Malawi Queens’ quest to win the first ever Netball Diamond Challenge trophy suffered huge setback after the team went down to hosts and rivals, South Africa, 33-43 at Ugu Sports Centre in Margate on Wednesday.
Queens must now beat Zambia Thursday to finish as runners-up in the preliminary round in order to qualify and possibly face South Africa again on Friday to determine the champions.
This was the fifth straight defeat to South Africa since 2013 when Malawi lost to the same opponents in a similar tournament and the Africa Netball Championship at home. Queens also suffered similar defeat in Fast5 tournaments.
South Africa’s shooter Lenize Potgieter was the chief tormentor to Malawi’s defence of Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda, Carol Mtukule Ngwira and Grace Mhango.
The match clearly gave an insight into new Queens coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa’s task in her bid to transform the side after miserable outing last year.
It also exposed Malawi’s lack of depth as the team struggled in the shooting department in absence of New Zealand-based shooter Mwawi Kumwenda.
The absence of other star players Tina Kamzati and Beatrice Mpinganjira worsened Malawi’s woes since the duo is capable of adding rhythm to the attack.
Both teams started with the same line-ups they featured on Tuesday during their opening games. Queens’ shooter Joyce Mvula and goal attacker Sindie Simtowe clearly lacked composure in the ring as they missed a combined effort of six baskets. Queens trailed 9-13 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter exposed Malawi Queens’ inability to maintain possession and complete passes. The shooters were disappointing while
centre court players lost direction and meandered about paving way for South Africa to break away with 22-16 lead at half time.
Queens approached the third quarter strongly and at some point narrowed the margin to just five baskets but they eventually collapsed to 24-33 at the end of the quarter.
At the start of fourth quarter, Queens withdrew off form Simtowe for Ellen Chibokho. Despite some wonderful movements Chibokho could not solve Malawi’s shooting woes as she also struggled to hit the target.
In a bid to narrow the margin, Queens substituted Joyce Mvula and recalled Simtowe.
Meanwhile, Chawinga- Kalua has promised to rectify the mistakes.
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