Malawi Under-21 national netball team’s chances of making it to 2017 World Youth Netball Cup yesterday suffered another setback after they lost 55-32 to South Africa in the Africa Youth Netball Championship in Gaborone, Botswana.
The defeat has left the Junior Queens on position four in the nine-team continental event.
It follows another 52-23 loss to Zimbabwe in their third match after two wins in the opener against Lesotho and the second game against Namibia.
Malawi is now under pressure to win all their three remaining games against Uganda, Botswana and Zambia, to have a realistic chance of finishing within the top-three and qualify for the 2017 World Youth Netball Cup.
But this will be possible only if one of the current top-three teams—South Africa, Zimbabwe and Uganda— lose two of their remaining matches.
As we went to press, South Africa and Zimbabwe and Uganda had already earned four-straight wins.
Botswana have automatically qualified for the 2017 World Cup as the fourth African team for being hosts of the global contest next year.
“This loss to South Africa has put us in a tight corner. It will require a great deal of luck to qualify for the World Cup,” said Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) technical director Griffin Saenda yesterday.
“Let us just keep our fingers crossed because miracles do happen sometimes.”
Against South Africa yesterday, the Junior Queens were on the back-foot throughout the match except for some individual brilliance of attackers Tendai Masamba, Ethel Ng’ambi and Vedina Nsanza who managed shooting accuracies of 85.7 percent, 72.2 percent and 71.4 percent, respectively.
South Africa led 15-10 in the first quarter before increasing the tally to 30-17 and 42-24 in the subsequent segments.
Today, the Junior Queens will take on Uganda and the hosts Botswana.
They will complete their fixtures tomorrow with a match against Zambia.
Zimbabwe and Uganda were facing off as we went to press. South Africa will be up against the two sides today and tomorrow, respectively.