Malawi Queens are tipped to finish second in the ongoing African Netball Championship following their 49-45 win over defending champions Uganda’s She Cranes yetserday in Cape Town, South Africa.
The continent’s top-ranked side South Africa Spar Proteas, who have won all their five games, look certain to win the title.
On the other hand, Malawi are tipped for runners-up slot having won four and lost one to South Africa.
Malawi also saw off minnows Lesotho later yesterday.
Both the Queens and hosts South Africa play their final matches today against Zimbabwe’s Gamecocks and Zambia, repectively.
The Queens could emerge triumphant if they beat Zimbabwe and hope that, against all odds, South Africa should lose to Zambia.
Queens’ victory yesterday ended Uganda’s dominance in the African Netball Championship.
The Queens have so far beaten the defending champions twice
this year as they also secured a 55-44 win in July during placement matches at the 2019 Netball World Cup in England.
The Queens played second fiddle to the fast-improving Ugandans in the last two editions of the continental championship, losing 66-43 last year and 51-46 in 2017 when the She-Cranes took the ultimate glory.
The latest victory has not only given the Queens a chance to finish within the top two at the continental event, but has also put them on the right path to reclaiming the sixth ranking on the International Netball Federation (INF) World Rankings.
Currently, Queens are ranked seventh in the world and third in Africa while the She-Cranes are sixth and second, respectively.
Yesterday, the game appeared to be a 50-50 affair until the Queens took a four-basket lead in the second quarter and never looked back.
The first quarter ended 11-11 before Malawi led 23-19 and 35-31 in the subsequent segments, all thanks to the shooting brilliance of Joyce Mvula and Jane Chimaliro, who managed over 90 percent shooting accuracy.
Centre Takondwa Lwazi-Mtonga played a pivotal role in ball distribution while defenders Caroline Mtukule-Ngwira and Laureen Ngwira stood firm on the defensive lines.
In this particular match, Queens coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa dared not to make a risk of making substitutions as she maintained her first seven.
“I am proud of my girls today; they did everything according to plan,” she said after the match.
On why she maintained the starting line-up, Chawinga-Kaluwa said: “If the first seven was doing everything right, there was no need to make changes.
She-Cranes coach Rashid Mabiru, whose side did not have their lofty shooter Peace Proscovia, attributed their defeat to inexperience among most of his charges.
At this event, Malawi has nine players who played at the 2019 Netball World Cup while Uganda has five.
“We had many youthful players in our squad as compared to Malawi and naivety among most players cost us the game,” he said.