It is all doom and gloom. Malawi Queens have for the first time been condemned to fight for seventh place at the Commonwealth Games following yesterday’s 56-43 loss to Uganda’s She Cranes in their last Group B match in Birmingham, England.
The development also means the Queens are stuck on seventh in world netball ranking and have lost the privilege of automatic qualification in future prestigious competitions including the next Commonwealth Games, Netball World Cup and the Fast5 World Netball Series.
With the latest 13-basket defeat, the Queens accepted to abandon an easy route to global competitions. They now have to go through the qualifying stages for the 2023 Netball World Cup, which will for the first time be held on African soil in South Africa.
The Queens have finished fourth in their six-team group on four points from five games while Uganda are third on six points. They are expected to play against Wales today in a seventh/eighth place playoff.
“This is a shocking result,” said Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) vice-president Chimwemwe Bakali after the match.
“There is a lot of work to be done by collectively working together. The more we fight the more we go down. This is a responsibility of not only the players, the technical panel, the netball officials but every Malawian. We should always ask ourselves, ‘is what we are doing going to build or destroy our beloved Queens?’”
The Queens were hoping to beat the She Cranes to reclaim sixth ranking after Uganda beat them 59-43 in the Pent Series Championship before settling for a 44-44 draw in the African Netball Championship in Namibia.
Within the last decade, the Queens have dropped in world ranking from fifth to seventh. South Africa were the first to displace them in 2013 before the She Cranes did it three years ago.
Yesterday, the Queens started the match with a bang; leading by two baskets at the sound of the first whistle with Kumwenda converting every scoring opportunity under the loop.
However, height disadvantage and misplacement of passes slowly but surely took a toll as the She Cranes caught up with the Queens before eventually leading 14-11 at the end of the quarter.
In the second quarter, the She Cranes seemed to have got the better of the Queens with their shooter Peace Priscovia scoring with ease. At one point, the She Cranes led by seven baskets before the Queens got back their rhythm to cut the lead to four as Uganda led 28-24 at half-time. Some brilliant intercepts from Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda were instrumental in the Queens’ improved performance.
In the third stanza, the Queens coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa rejigged the attacking line, switching Kumwenda to attacking position as Joyce Mvula took the shooting role after replacing goal-attacker Sindi Simtowe-Msowoya.
The change hardly had a positive impact as Malawi committed a number of turnovers to give the She Cranes a leeway to gain an eight-basket lead. Uganda won the segment 41-33.
The Queens were totally outplayed in the last quarter, where they struggled to deal with Uganda’s aerial balls and physical strength. Surely, a 13-basket feat was a deserved result.
New Zealand and defending champions England have qualified for the semi-finals from Group B while Jamaica and Australia have made it from Group A. Uganda and South Africa will fight for the fifth place.