Malawi Queens yesterday exorcised their demons to end an 11-game losing streak in style by outsmarting Fiji’s Pearls 67-52 in their second match of the four-nation Taini Jamison Trophy in New Zealand.
Before the triumph at the North Shore Events Centre in Auckland, the Queens had suffered 10 straight losses in all competitions last year and had a poor start in 2018 following an agonising 42-75 defeat by hosts New Zealand’s Silver Ferns in the opener of Taini Jamison Trophy on Wednesday.
The win has given them a mathematical chance for title contention tomorrow.
The world’s 12th-ranked Queens are tied on three points with second-rated Silver Ferns, who lost to fourth-ranked Jamaica 51-59 yesterday. Jamaica has six points from two-straight wins.
This means Malawi needs to triumph over Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls in their last preliminary round match this morning and keep their fingers crossed that New Zealand can falter against seventh-ranked Pearls this morning.
Nevertheless, history shows that Fiji has never beaten Silver Ferns in any competition.
The other option is that the Queens must beat Jamaica by at least 66 baskets to get rid of the Sunshine Girls’ better basket difference as, at present, Malawi’s basket difference is minus 18 against Jamaica’s 47.
Shooter Mwawi Kumwenda, who was named Player of the Match, hailed her team mates for the win.
“We played with one spirit. Let’s bring it on for tomorrow’s game. Above all, thanks for the support for me to be named Player of the Match,” she said.
Despite the win, Queens head coach Griffin Saenda, who did not accompany the Queens due to an illness, said a win against Jamaica is important.
He said: “It was predictable that we could win against lower-ranked Fiji, but it is a tall order to go past the Jamaicans, who have height advantage. If we triumph against the Sunshine Girls, it would show that we are ready to compete for honours at the Commonwealth Games. We have to use all the necessary measures, including quick and short passes, to outclass them tomorrow.”
Assistant coach Griffin Saenda Jnr said they would fight on.
“We know it’s not going to be easy,” he said.
The last time the two sides met in 2015 Netball World Cup, the Queens narrowly lost 62-63 in Australia to miss semi-final spot.