Kukoma Diamonds yesterday won their first ever Airtel Money Netball Championship title after a deserved 40-37 victory over bitter rivals and defending champions Tigresses at Don Bosco court in Lilongwe.
Alinafe Kamwala’s shooting prowess, Caroline Mtukule’s amazing leadership and Towera Nyirongo’s steel defending was all Diamonds needed to end Tigresses two-year domination and pocket a cool K7 million.
The defending champions showed false signs of retaining the title after leading 8-7 in the first-quarter.
However, led by the evergreen shooter Kamwala, Diamonds led 18-14 by the close of the second-quarter.
In the third-quarter, the match continued to tilt in Diamonds’ favour but Tigresses bagged four consecutive baskets to close in after their rivals had taken a strong lead. The quarter ended 31-27.
Sensing danger, Diamonds withdrew Eneless Mdezo for Shira Dimba who did magnificently well to improve the attack as they secured the victory.
Diamonds coach Noel Mussa was overwhelmed with the victory saying it was sweet to end the Airtel Money curse.
“This trophy has always eluded us, but here we are as champions,” he said.
But Tigresses team manager Charles Mhango blamed officiation.
“Most decisions were against us. If this didn’t happen, we could have won the game,” he said.
Tigresses will pocket K3 million while Blue Eagles will receive K1.7 million for finishing third.
Eagles needed extra time to beat CivoNets 49-47 after tying 35-35 during normal time.
Diamonds progressed into the final after trouncing Eagles 47-34 while Tigresses reached the final after narrowly edging out CivoNets by 40-37. n