We all saw it coming but paid a blind eye. Yesterday the fall of the Queens was finally confirmed when the once mighty Malawi national netball team was mercilessly destroyed by fast-improving Uganda 52-54 baskets at the on-going Commonwealth Games in Australia.
As other teams, such as Botswana, Zambia and Uganda are steadily improving their game through youth development programmes, the Queens, once a force to reckon with in Africa and beyond, sat on their laurels.
While the other teams took with them up-and-coming players, the Queens relied on old and tired players that have been in the team for over a decade.
No wonder once great names such as Caroline Mtukule, Vinkhumbo, Joana Kachilika, Sindi Simtowe and Thandi Galeta were no match for Uganda’s agile young talent despite the Queens boosting of vastly talented shooter Mwawi Kumwenda. Loreen Ngwira, Towera
They paid dearly for this mediocrity as they succumbed to a second defeat to Uganda—a day after losing to England.
While beating England was a far-fetched dream, a loss to Uganda sent shivers down the spine to many as it dawned that the Queens might come back home no longer in top six.
They trailed in all quarters as Uganda dominated the match 18-10 in first-quarter, 30-25 in second and 40-39 in third, before winning it 54-52.
Queens assistant coach Griffin Saenda Jnr apologised for the loss, saying they had let the nation down.
“It is very painful. We are very sorry. I know people back home expected us to win, but they also need to bear in mind that every team that is here has improved, and they want to win as much as we want,” he said.
Commenting on the match, Saenda Jnr said the Queens were undone by misplaced passes.
“It was a tough match. People thought it would be an easy one, but no, it was 50-50. We fought hard from nine baskets down to level and went ahead to lead with one basket.
“But we misplaced many passes, especially in last-quarter, and it was difficult to come back into the game. The girls tried their best, but it was too late,” he said.
When asked if the Queens can finish in top six, Saenda Jnr sounded defeated: “No we can’t. May be seventh or eighth.”
The Queens next face New Zealand before wrapping up the group matches with a game against Wales and Scotland.