Malawi National Netball Team’s bid to return to the top six of the Commonwealth Games ended in frustration with a 56-43 defeat to Uganda yesterday.
The Queens were outplayed and outfought in defence and at centre court as the She-Cranes benefited from their opponents’ turnovers to finish third in Group B, in the process qualifying for position five and six play-offs.
Malawi’s defeat summed up controversies that marred the team’s preparations following differences between Netball Association of Malawi and the coaching panel.
During the match, Malawi made nine turnovers which allowed Uganda to dominate from the first whistle.
Following the loss, the Queens finished fourth in Group B behind leaders England, second-placed New Zealand and Uganda.
This means Malawi will play in a position seven and eight classification match.
As expected, goalkeeper Lauren Ngwira started at the expense of captain Caroline Mtukule-Ngwira while Towera Vinkhumbo was deployed at goal defence. Martha Dambo was maintained at wing defence.
However, Ngwira failed to contain Uganda’s top shooter Mary Naba who was a thorn in the Queens’ flesh.
Takondwa Lwazi shrugged off a knee injury to start at centre court while Thandi Galeta returned to wing attack.
Goal shooter Mwawi Kumwenda partnered goal attacker Jane Chimaliro.
Uganda narrowly led the first quarter 14-11 before extending the lead to 28-24 at half time.
Queens Coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa was forced to make a string of changes as the going got tougher on the court with Uganda firing from all cylinders.
As the match progressed, Galeta paved way for Bridget Kumwenda whereas skipper Mtukule-Ngwira replaced Ngwira who struggled to intercept high balls.
The Queens still trailed Uganda 41-33 at the end of the third quarter.
Chawinga-Kaluwa later changed her tactics by withdrawing Chimaliro for Joyce Mvula to allow Mwawi to move to goal attack.
Mvula was then taken off for Sindi Simtowe-Msowoya before being recalled in the last quarter.
The result means Malawi have, for the second successive time, failed to finish in the top six of the Commonwealth Games.
Former Queens player Neffie Kam’mata felt Malawi gave away the match in defence.
“I think Lauren did not tick. She hardly made any interceptions and her movements affected her colleagues. All in all, I think we played better but we gave the match away,” Kam’mata said.