The Under-20 national netball team will fight for gold against rivals South Africa this afternoon at African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region Five Youth Games in Botswana after beating the hosts 55-40 in their last round-robin match yesterday.
The Junior Queens led15-11 in the first quarter before increasing the tally to 30-20 and 40-31 inthe subsequent segments.
So far, Malawi have won five of their six matches to complete their round-robin fixtures as runners-up on the seven-nation log-table with 10 points, two behind leaders South Africa, who managed six-straight wins.
According to the Region Five’s netball schedule, the gold medal match is expected to roll into action at noon before the medal award ceremony at 2pm.
Junior Queens coach Christina Mkwanda-Nsinji yesterday praised her charges for a job well done so far, but said today they have to dig deep to overcome South Africa, who beat them 38-48 in the opener.
“We keep on improving our performance everyday and we dominated in our match against Botswana. However, we still need to pull up our socks as we prepare to play against South Africa tomorrow. We would like to take home a gold medal,” she said.
This is the first time in three years that the Under-20 national netball team has been assembled for an international event and Malawi has no junior netball league in place.
The Junior Queens’ technical panel relied on the recent domestic competitions to identify some talented young players that made the Botswana trip.
Meanwhile, the Under-17 men’s national football team faced the exit door following a one-all draw against Angola yesterday. Both teams tied on four points but Angola secured the semifinal slot as Group A runners-up on better goal difference. Malawi had a zero goal difference while Angola has a plus one. Tanzania progressed as group winners on six points after beating South Africa 2-0.
Similarly, the Under-20 national women football team yesterday went down 0-1 to Zimbabwe in their last Group A match to miss the semi-final slot by a whisker.
Malawi, which drew 1-1 with the hosts before thumping Lesotho 6-1, just needed a draw yesterday to make the last-four grade as they topped the group on goal difference after tying on four points with Botswana, which has eventually qualified as group winners on seven points following a 6-0 thrashing of Lesotho in their last group match. Zimbabwe has made it as the group’s runners-up with six points.