CivoNets on Thursday paid tribute to their fallen coach Connis Mhone after beating Thunder Queens 29-24 in a lively Presidential Cup finals Group D tussle at Blantyre Youth Centre.
Some of the players could be heard wailing while mentioning Connis’ name as others comforted their colleagues while leaving the court. The coach died last week after a bout with cancer.
A sobbing goal attacker Jane Chimaliro said the mournful mood that enveloped their victory was understandable: “Connis was a motivator, our heroin. We wanted to win for her.”
Thunder Queens, formerly MTL Queens, has always been dominant over CivoNets with their recent triumphs coming during the GOtv finals.
“They beat us twice during that tournament. Winning here was an historic achievement,” Chimaliro, who spearheaded the Queens’ defeat further remarked.
On court affairs, CivoNets narrowly led the first quarter 6-5 and the second 14-12.
The match, on a sunny morning with a sizeable crowd of spectators, saw Queens lose further ground after their opponents extended their lead by 18-22.
In the final quarter, the attacking partnership of Sally Nyasulu and Chimaliro continued to overrun the tiring Queens defence duo of Esther Kayira and Joanna Kachilika to claim the victory.
The win means that CivoNets might avoid meeting the big guns Diamond Sisters, Tigresses and Eagle Sisters in the quarter-finals set to be played today.
On Queens’ part, the devastating result means if they go through, they might face the netball giants.
But Kayira was optimistic they can win the title: “We are disappointed, but not devastated. We will fight on because every team still stands a chance.”
The group stage matches were still underway as we went to press yesterday. Winners and runners-up from the four groups were expected to proceed to the last eight.
The finals will be played tomorrow with Eagles, Diamonds, Civo and defending champions Tigresses all in the frame to win the K4 million grand prize.n