Malawi national netball team, the Queens, have a daunting task of winning this year’s Africa Netball Championship in Zambia to qualify for the 2019 World Netball Cup.
Top five teams—Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, South Africa and England—automatically qualify by virtue of their position on the International Netball federation (INF) World Rankings.
The others, including Malawi, will qualify via regional qualification from the five international netball regions—Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
Malawi’s Queens, are sixth in the world and second on the continent.
They will have to battle it out against the other teams such as seventh-ranked Uganda Cranes who are also Africa Netball Championship defending champions, fast improving Botswana, Zimbabwe and hosts Zambia from August 14 to 19 for the other slot.
The Queens coach Griffin Saenda said the team’s performance at the Commonwealth Games affected their rankings.
“If we had done better, we could have replaced South Africa and qualified automatically. But now we have to ensure we win the championship to make it to the World Netball Cup,” he said.
Saenda was, however, confident that Malawi can win the championship which will be played in Lusaka, Zambia.
“What we need is thorough preparations for the competition so that we are in top form when we go to Zambia,” he said.
Meanwhile, Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) general secretary Carol Bapu told Radio 2 that the association needs K8 million for the competition.
The budget has already been submitted to Malawi National Council of Sports, according to her.
“We are just waiting for a go-ahead from Sports Council. But we are ready; come July, the team will be ready to go into camp,” she said.
However, Malawi will have to be at their best to overcome defending champions Uganda, who are also eyeing the same slot.
Last year Uganda beat Malawi twice to win the title. They repeated the feat this year by beating Malawi 54-52 at the recent Commonwealth Games in Australia.
The She-Cranes have already started preparations for the championship by participating at a five-nation tourney underway in Namibia.
The tournament also involves the hosts Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
But the Queens will go to the competition without playing friendly matches.
“If anything comes up we will see, but we cannot promise that the team will play any international friendly games,” Bapu said. n