Malawi National Netball Team, the Queens and Uganda’s She Cranes yesterday drew 44-44 in their thrilling last match at the Africa Netball Championship in Windhoek, Namibia.
The result in this nerve-wracking see-saw affair monitored on Gravity Live Television means the Queens have surrendered the continental runners-up slot to the She-Cranes as the two sides tied on 13 points from eight games apiece, but Uganda had a superior goal difference.
Africa’s top-ranked side South Africa’s Spar Proteas retained the championship after winning all their eight matches.
The latest stalemate is also a curse for the Queens as they are set to lose the world’s sixth slot to Uganda in the next rankings in January as the seventh-ranked She Cranes beat them Queens 59-43 in the Pent Series two weeks ago.
Currently, the Queens have 124 rating points, just two better than Uganda.
In the last four years, the Queens have been playing second fiddle to the She Cranes who have won five of their seven games.
Queens lost 54-52 at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 66-43 during the 2017 Africa Netball Championship. They were also defeated 52-39 and 67-34 in friendly matches in 2017.
The only win for Malawi was at the 2019 Netball World Cup when they beat She Cranes 55-44.
Despite missing the services of goal-attacker Jane Chimaliro, who had to return home prematurely after her husband died in a road accident, Malawi started the match brightly, narrowly leading 12-11 in the first quarter before surrendering it 22-23 at half-time.
They crawled back to lead 35-32 in the third segment and maintained a three-basket advantage for the better part of the last quarter before letting the Ugandans to draw level at the sound of the final whistle.
The solace for the Queens was that Chimaliro was named the tournament’s best shooter.
Queens coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa attributed the latest results and the third-place finish to haphzard preparations.
She said: “Prior to returning to action, we were idle for a long time due to Covid-19 restrictions and we camped for just a few days.
“This has been an eye-opener for us and we have to do things differently as we prepare for the Commonwealth Games.”
Malawi started with United Kingdom (UK)-based Joyce Mvula and Sindi Simtowe-Msowoya in the shooting circle while Sheila Dimba and Bridget Kumwenda controlled the centre and wing attack. Grace Mwafulirwa, Carol Mtukule-Ngwira and UK-based Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda marshalled the defence.