Malawi National Netball Team cruised to a 56-42 comfortable win over Zimbabwe Thursday ahead of this morning’s crucial Africa Netball Cup battle against rivals South Africa at Wanderers Sports Club in Windhoek, Namibia.
For the third successive time, Queens coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa maintained the side that started in the first two games, with Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda, Carol Mtukule-Ngwira and Grace Mwafulirwa-Mhango forming the backline.
Shira Dimba and Bridget Kumwenda were again charged with the role of keeping the supply lines open to goal shooter Joyce Mvula and Jane Chimaliro.
It was obvious that the Queens were looking at scoring more goals as the round robin format tournament could be decided either by points or goal difference.
Queens, who were tight at the back and ruthless in attack, led the first quarter 18-8. At half time, they were 30-20 up.
Zimbabwe offered resistance but could not stop the Queens from extending the lead to 43-31 at the end of the third quarter.
The Queens held on to emerge 56-42 victors at the end of the fourth quarter.
Chawinga-Kaluwa described the match as physical.
“The umpires didn’t seem to notice what was happening in the court. But all that is behind us now. Our focus has shifted to the match against South Africa. This will be a special encounter we will approach differently,” she said.
Mtukule-Ngwira, who had a superb game, said they used experience to overcome Zimbabwe.
“I had to play my role as captain to encourage my colleagues. Zimbabwe have big, experienced shooters but we used our technique to mark them out of the match,” she said.
Zimbabwe coach Lloyd Makunde blamed some errors for the loss.
“We went out with guns blazing because we wanted to win this match. Just a few errors made the score line to balloon like that. The umpires made some footwork [foot-fault] calls which I didn’t understand either,” Makunde said.
It was expected that the Queens would beat Zimbabwe but they now face Africa Netball Cup holders South Africa, who will surely be tough to overcome.
The encounter between the two sides will most likely determine which way the cup would go as the two are top sides.
Both Malawi and South Africa have won three games each and this encounter will have a bearing on the championship race.
The two sides last met in 2020 during the Spar International 3 Test Series in South Africa, where the hosts won all the three games 65-25, 62-29 and 69-28 to register a 3-0 series victory.
This time, the Queens will be hoping that the presence of Mvula and Vinkhumbo will give them the much-needed spark to overcome South Africa.
The competition could also degenerate into a three-horse race as Uganda are also among strong contenders.
In other games played yesterday, Uganda beat Zambia 52-33 whereas South Africa defeated Tanzania 79-22.
Action in the continental championship continues tomorrow, with the Queens dating Kenya before lining up against hosts Namibia on Sunday.
The Queens will take on Tanzania on Monday before concluding the campaign with a tie against Uganda on November 16.