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Will Malawi Queens rule?

By Mphatso Malidadi:

Wavering Malawi national netball team begins the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup campaign against fourth-ranked New Zealand at M & S Bank Arena in Liverpool, England, this morning.

The Queens are under fire after dropping on International Netball Federation rankings from position six to nine.

The opening fixture features teams that have struggled recently as New Zealand have also dropped from second to fourth position in two years.

Silver Ferns have a score to settle against Malawi following the 57-53 defeat they suffered to the Queens during last year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Speaking after Malawi concluded their Quad Series tour in Cardiff, where they finished second behind hosts Wales, Queens Coach Griffin Saenda Senior said his charges would up the game when facing the giants.

“We have noted areas that needed attention and believe that our players will rise to the occasion,” he said.

Malawi, who are without Melbourne Vixens shooter Mwawi Kumwenda, will bank their hopes on Manchester Thunder shooter Joyce Mvula.

Mvula enjoyed rare success in the Vitality Superleague in the United Kingdom after being voted Sky Sports fans’ Player-of-the-Season and also won two team awards at Thunder.

Queens defenders need to be alert to frustrate Silver Ferns’ shooter Maria Folau, who is one of the most effortlessly elegant players in the game.

Folau has 138 caps and appeared in all 14 editions of the global competition.

New Zealand Coach, Noeline Taurua, took over the side last year and also coaches domestic side Sunshine Coast Lightning, guiding them to back-to-back premierships.

His Malawian counterpart, Saenda, also mentors local champions Kukoma Diamonds and is a seasoned international coach.

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