Malawi Queens coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa says she is determined her charges will beat hosts South Africa’s Spar Proteas in pool A opener of African Netball Championship today to increase their chances of the ending an eight-year continental title drought.
The two sides last met in 2015 during the Netball World Cup, when Malawi triumphed 58-51 in group stages before losing 46-48 in fifth-place play-offs.
Last year, the Queens triumphed 33-32 in the Fast5 World Netball Series in Australia.
This is the first time in six years that the two sides are meeting in the eight-team continental competition after the 2013 finals Malawi saw the South Africans, who are the continent’s top-ranked team, snatching the crown with a narrow 54-52 triumph at Blantyre Youth Centre (BYC).
“The Spar Proteas are the highest-ranked team at the tournament. If we beat them, it will mean we will have high chances of winning the title,” Chawinga-Kaluwa said.
If they beat South Africa, the Queens will increase their chances of finishing in the top-two in the four-team pool, which also has Zambia and Lesotho.
They also need to win the tournament without losing a single match to get back into the top-six of International Netball Federation (INF) World Rankings to get automatic qualification into prestigious events such as the Commonwealth Games and Fast5 Netball World Series.
Currently, the Queens are ranked seventh in the world and third on the continent, two steps behind fifth-ranked Spar Proteas and a step behind defending champions Uganda’s She Cranes, who are in pool B alongside Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tanzania.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s newly-appointed coach Dorette Badenhorst, who has replaced Norma Plummer, said they will not underrate their opponents, especially the Queens.
Badenhorst was quoted as saying on www.iol.co.za: “It is never easy playing any African countries. All the four teams that competed at the 2019 Netball World Cup [South Africa, Malawi, Uganda and Zimbabwe], did very well as they finished in the top-10.
“I will never underestimate them. We will make sure that we are better prepared, especially against Malawi. The goal is to win this tournament.”
Malawi, South Africa and Uganda, did not take part in the 2015 edition that Zimbabwe won. South Africa have missed the 2017 and 2018 editions in which the Queens finished runners-up to She Cranes.
Former Queens’ captain Emmie Waya-Chongwe said the Queens have a chance of winning the tournament, but have missed an opportunity of building a future squad ahead of the 2022 Commonwealth Games and 2023 Netball World Cup.