Malawi netball export Joyce Mvula has passed a late fitness test a day before Malawi Queens start their 2019 Netball World Cup campaign against fourth-ranked New Zealand’s Silver Ferns tomorrow in Liverpool, England.
The availability of the award-winning shooter is a big boost for the Queens’ revival at the global showpiece, where they are tasked to regain the top-six slot after slipping down three steps to ninth on the latest International Netball Federation (INF) World Rankings, losing automatic qualification to prestigious international events.
Mvula was doubtful ahead of the global netball fiesta as she was nursing a knee injury sustained during the grand final of Vitality Netball Superleague in May in which her English club Manchester Thunder beat Wasps 57-52.
Due to the injury, Mvula missed all the national netball team’s three test matches in Wales, where the Queens lost to lowly-ranked hosts and narrowly triumphed by a single-basket against another minnow Trinidad and Tobago.
Malawi also triumphed 53-37 over Northern Ireland.
“I am now good and ready to represent my country,” said Mvula in an interview yesterday.
Her presence is a boost for the Queens as the national netball team is set to miss the services of lofty shooter Australia-based Mwawi Kumwenda, who is recuperating from a knee injury.
Meanwhile, the Vitality Netball Superleague Fans’ Player of the Season is among the top 17 players out of 129 netballers the INF analysts believe will make a difference at the biggest global netball event.
With an average shooting accuracy of 90 percent so far, Queens’ coach Griffin ‘Zagalo’ Saenda believes Mvula will help Malawi reclaim its lost glory at the World Cup.
“Mvula is an extraordinary shooter and a hard worker. With her in the squad, we are confident of achieving success at the World Cup.
“Despite that, we have told all the players in our squad to give their all because we need to do this as a team,” he said.
Netball analyst Wesley Namasala said the coming in of Mvula would improve the Queens’ scoring prowess, considering her vast experience in the English top-flight netball league.
“At the world cup, we now have four scorers in Mvula, Jane Chimaliro, Sindi Simtowe-Msowoya and Alinafe Kamwala. But if you analyse them, you will note that Chimaliro and Simtowe-Msowoya play much better as goal-attackers while Mvula and Kamwala are natural goal shooters,” he said.
“Mvula’s availability will make the Queens’ shooting lethal as she has a vast international experience in that aspect than Kamwala. Mvula is a world-class shooter that will make a difference for the Queens.”