Four losses, including two to rivals South Africa’s Spar Proteas, in 16 games of 12 wins, sum up Malawi Queens’ steady performance on the international scene in the year just ending.
While statistics make good reading, continued last-gasp defeats at the hands of sworn enemies South Africa and the Queens’ failure to shrug off top netball dogs, give a headache of what prescription can turn Malawi from continental best into world beaters.
This year, Queens’ fifth-place finish on the world scale was a mere confirmation of their continental dominance and not world supremacy.
Malawi deputy coach Sam Kanyenda’s prescription given in August was simple on what ought to be done for the Queens.
“If we have to break into the top four, then we should have a strategy which includes playing often the top teams we struggle to beat, namely England, New Zealand, Australia and Jamaica,” Kanyenda told The Nation.
With limited resources, it seems unlikely that the Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) would afford such a luxury of travelling to play the giants. Usually, the Queens wait for fully sponsored events.
After getting it all right on the continent, Queens shelved the rivalry against South Africa for the Fast5 Tournament in Auckland, New Zealand in November.
The Queens managed three sensational wins, including twice beating Australia (33-15, 33-30) and England (27-23). They also eased past South Africa in the preliminary stage while falling to the hosts New Zealand 44-24, Jamaica 32-31 and more worryingly, to South Africa 48-34 in a fifth-place play-off.
New Zealand were the eventual winners of the championship after beating England 23-21.