Coach Mary Waya attributes the struggles of the Queens to pangs of rebuilding.
But critics apportion this to Mwawi Kumwenda’s absence. And more questions abound after Malawi Queens’ seventh consecutive defeat — 68-36 to England at capacity Copper Box, London on Wednesday.
Context will matter less after this third consecutive loss to England for Malawi this year, having also been defeated at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and World Fast5 Netball Championship in New Zealand in July and November respectively.
Whatever the case, the test match that pooled a sell-out crowd of 5 000 expecting to feast their eyes on a spectacle must have been disappointed that at no stage in the game did Africa’s top team and the world’s fifth best show resistance.
Queens trailed in all quarters 13-6, 35-19, 52-31 and 68-36.
“Malawi were looking a forlorn team in the final quarter, in the knowledge that a comeback was now beyond them. England remained in control and drew loud applause from the crowd with some mouth-watering attacking play,” reports England Netball publicist Alex Sexton.
Those attributing the Queens massacre to Mwawi’s absence could be vindicated as the line-up indicates that, save for new comers, centre Martha Dambo and improvised goal shooter Lorraine Ngwira, the Queens featured regulars Sindi Simtowe, Bridget Kumwenda, Grace Mwafulirwa, Caroline Mtukule-Ngwira and Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda.
“The fans flocked to the capital to revel in a night of netball as they were first treated to a wonderful celebrity fixture, which helped to raise funds for Cancer Research UK. That proved to be but a tantalising starter for the sumptuous main course which followed,” added Sexton on www.englandnetball.co.uk
Waya pleaded for patience when reacting to Queens’ defeats, saying she was rebuilding for the 2015 World Netball Cup in Australia. Beyond Ngwira and Dambo, it is difficult appreciating the new blood being touted. There is no doubt that with Mwawi, Malawi should have, if not winning a quarter, at least lost by a respectable margin.
A second and final match of the tour in Worcester tomorrow [Friday] gives England more confidence, but food for thought for Malawi whose woes are being worsened by players’ unpaid dues.
“If they had featured youngsters and lost it could have been understandable, but we are afraid this could be the downfall of the Queens.
“The gap is getting bigger,” said a netball coach who refused to be named fearing NAM’s wrath.
Former netball star Emily Machinjiri yesterday felt the Queens might have struggled due to the re-adjustment of having played from a Fast5 — that involved five players, more pace and new rules—to the conventional netball in England.
“I think our England counterparts were more ready as they play matches non-stop whereas we wait for competitions,” said Machinjiri.