Malawi Queens yesterday comprehensively overcame Zimbabwe’s Gems 63-34 to register a fifth-straight win in the Cosana Tri-Nations Netball Cup at Kamuzu University of Health Science (Kuhes) Sports Complex in Blantyre.
The 29-basket margin was the Queens’ biggest against the Gems in the four-day tournament as they triumphed by 12 baskets (47-35) the previous day and 22 baskets (45-23) in their first meeting.
Malawi also thrashed Namibia’s Desert Jewels 77-25 and 60-23.
Prior to the match, the Queens had already won the competition with two games to spare but, still, they played like wounded buffaloes.
Queens coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa praised her charges for an improved performance as compared to their last meeting with the Gems the previous day.
As the highest-ranked team in the tournament that has an impact on World Netball rankings, the seventh-ranked Queens were under pressure to produce 100-percent win against 13th-ranked Zimbabwe and 22nd-ranked Namibia.
Chawinga-Kaluwa said she was confident of finishing their fixtures unbeaten as they take on Namibia in their last game today at 6pm.
She said: “Today, I am very happy. The girls played according to instructions. After surviving Zimbabwe’s scare yesterday [Tuesday], we sat down and thoroughly analysed our strengths and weakness. It is a great feeling that they did exactly what we agreed.”
Yesterday, after the other day’s tense and tight encounter with the Gems, the Queens were cautious in their approach to the latest meeting.
She made a single change to her starting line-up; featuring Tendai Masamba in Sindi Simtowe’s place under the loop.
The coach maintained goal-attacker Jane Chimaliro, centre Takondwa Lwazi, wing-attacker Bridget Kumwenda, wing-defender Martha Dambo, goal-defender Caroline Mtukule-Ngwira and goal-keeper Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda.
Unlike in their last meeting, the Queens roared to a strong first-quarter performance that saw them making quick penetrations in attack. And a 14-8 lead at the end of the segment was really a fruit of their hard work.
They seemed to be reactive at the start of the second quarter as they conceded two baskets before converting their first attempt at goal. However, a poor start to the segment did little to dull the Queens’ fire; they upped their game as they took a 10-basket lead while increasing the tally to 26-16.
With their tails up, the Queens continued their onslaught in the third stanza, where Simtowe-Msowoya replaced Chimaliro. It all appeared easy when the hosts replenished themselves with a 19-basket lead. Third quarter ended 43-24.
Malawi scored first in the final segment and, in the presence of Minister of Youth and Sports Richard Chimwendo Banda, they seemed motivated.
In his remarks, Chimwendo Banda said government was proud of the Queens performance and will do the needful to grant them the support they need to prepare well for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, United Kingdom this July.