- Queens can still qualify if they beat Jamaica on Friday
Despite going down 49-57 to New Zealand’s Silver Ferns on Wednesday in Australia, the Queens can still qualify for the semi-finals of the global netball showcase if they can punch above their weight and beat Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls on Friday.
Friday’s showdown will be a decider as the Silver Ferns are already through having won both their games against the Queens and the Sunshine Girls. They are also tipped to have a stroll in the park against Uganda’s She Cranes tomorrow.
But the Queens, who fought for every yard against the world’s second top-ranked side, will have to give out something extra if they are to cause an upset against a side they have never beaten before.
Ironically, Jamaica lost to New Zealand by a seven-basket margin (55-48), just a basket less compared to the Queens and although it does not always go according to script, the margin of the losses could be testimony to how tight Friday’s clash will be.
“When we reduced the margin to a single basket, we somehow lost concentration and when New Zealand worked their way back into the game, there was no coming back, fatigue also caught up with the girls.
“But we have not given up yet. We have an off-day tomorrow and it will provide my players some rest so that come Friday, they will be fresh,” was all coach Peace Chawinga-Kalua said.
After shrugging off some early lethargy that saw them losing 6-0 in under five minutes of the opening quarter on Wednesday , the Queens somehow got their heads above water and by sheer sense of will, hauled themselves out of the mire to lose by just three baskets (13-16) at the end of the quarter.
Having weathered the early storm and backed by ganyu fans, the Queens worked their way into the game. Their passing was crisp and their movement sharp, it was testimony of the Queens’ sheer stubbornness and gritty unwillingness to let their semi-final qualification dream die.
But the Ferns used their height advantage to intercept and frustrate Queens’ moves. At half time, the Ferns maintained their three-basket lead (14-11).
But it was in the third quarter that Malawi staged a breathtaking exhibition of their traditional unorthodox style, forcing their opponents into rearguard action. No wonder the Queens won this quarter 15-12 (although the Ferns still led 39-42 overall) and New Zealand’s defenders found the Queens’ style a little more difficult to read.
But in the last quarter, the Queens appeared tired and New Zealand held on to their nerve to win 49-57. In another match, Australia beat South Africa’s Spar Proteas 66-31.