Malawi Queens began their revival campaign on an impressive note with a 51-40 triumph over Uganda’s She-Cranes during their opening match at the 2015 Diamonds Challenge Series in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa last evening.
The triumph in this pulsating netball encounter sets up this evening’s mouth-watering clash against rivals South Africa’s Proteas, who trampled upon Zambia’s She-polopolo 63-38 at Ugu Sports Centre in Margate.
With incredible centre passes and great positional play, the Queens managed to lead 15-11, 30-18 and 40-30 in three quarters, before eventually winning by an 11-basket margin.
This was an improvement from the Queens’ 55-46 win over the She-Cranes during the semi-finals of the African Netball Championships at Blantyre Youth Centre (BYC) in 2013.
For the Queens, this win buries last year’s miseries that saw them losing six consecutive games, including a 22-30 defeat to South Africa, during the Fast5 Netball Series in New Zealand before losing two test series matches against England.
However, the Queens have a daunting task to outclass South Africa in this evening’s encounter to give realistic hopes of turning over the tables and show they can ably win the Diamonds title or wrestle the African Netball Championships’ crown they lost to their rivals in 2013 following a 52-54 defeat.
“It is good to win the first game. It sets the pace. We tried different combinations to see how we can manage to unscrew South Africa tomorrow [today],” said co-coach Peace Chawinga-Kalua during a post-match interview monitored on SuperSport 4 on digital satellite television (DStv).
Last evening, Joyce Mvula managed a 99 percent shooting accuracy to deservedly fit into Mwawi Kumwenda’s shoes, although her pace and movements, to some extent, left a lot to be desired as she committed a number of contacts.
Her replacement in the final-quarter, Laureen Ngwira, did not disappoint either.
Thandi Galeta had a wonderful first appearance for the Queens, but she appeared shaky at times with some unnecessary misplaced passes.
The She-Cranes came with all guns blazing in the third-quarter, but the Queens took nothing to chance as they fought hard to keep a 10-basket lead throughout the segment.
The Queens’ solid defence marshalled by captain Carol Mtukule-Ngwira and ToweraVinkhumbo-Nyirenda could hardly let the She-Cranes’ attacking duo of towering shooter Peace Proscovia and diminutive goal-attacker Nakabuye Haddija slip through.
The Diamonds Challenge Series, which conclude on June 19 has drawn together Malawi, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia.
The Queens line-up was as follows: Joyce Mvula (LaureenNgwira) (GS), SindiSimtowe (CeciliaMtukule)(GA), Thandi Galeta (WA), Takondwa Lwazi (C), Martha Dambo (Grace Mwafulirwa-Mhango) (WD), Carol Mtukule-Ngwira (GD), Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda (GK).