Malawi national netball team on Friday qualified for the Netball World Cup fifth position play-offs where they will meet Jamaica after stunning stubborn Uganda 55-44, a victory that has assured the Queens of a top six finish.
It was a befitting victory against a team that usurped Malawi’s position six on International Netball Federation (INF) rankings.
Knowing that a lot was at stake in their battle for top six finish, it was a game the Queens approached with caution.
Assistant coach Whyte Mlilima, sitting in for head coach Griffin Saenda Snr who has been conspicuously missing on the technical area, featured his best seven.
He threw in top shooter Joyce Mvula, goal-attacker Jane Chimaliro, wing-attacker Thandie Galeta, centre Takondwa Lwazi, wing-defender Grace Mwafulirwa, goal-defender Caroline Mtukule and goalkeeper Towera Vinkhumbo.
With memories of how Uganda stunned Malawi in the Africa Netball Championship final, the Queens led by United Kingdom-based Mvula, who was named Player of the Match, did not give Uganda a chance to settle down.
The Queens started on fire from the first whistle, bagging four goals without a reply from their opponents.
Uganda went on to chase shadows until they found their footing later on pulling back with some two goals on fourth minute.
As the first quarter ended, Malawi’s Queens were leading 12-9.
The Queens continued with slow but steady approach as they controlled the pace of the game, while Uganda played catch-up.
Malawi improved the goal margin from three in the first quarter to eight at half time as the won the second quarter 27-19.
In the third quarter, Uganda tried to come back into the game but their gangly shooter Peace Proscovia was tightly marked by no nonsense Vinkhumbo and Mtukule.
But Uganda managed to reduce the gap to six goals in the third quarter which ended 41-35.
The final quarter saw Malawi fiercely protect their lead despite Uganda pushing for a strong finish.
After the final whistle, Malawi players and the technical panel burst into a dance of jubilation, knowing that they had at least managed to beat a team that is above them on the rankings, something that gives hope for the country.
“This is great. This is for our country. People were saying we will not go past Uganda, but we have done it,” said coach Mlilima in an interview with SuperSport.
The Queens will play Jamaica tomorrow in the battle for fifth position.
“Everything is possible. We are now aiming up the ladder,” he said.