Malawi Queens revival campaign suffered a big blow yesterday following a thumping 42-75 defeat by hosts the world’s second ranked team New Zealand’s Silver Ferns in the their opener of the four-nation Taini Jamison Trophy.
The 33 basket difference indicates the Queens have a big task to regain form considering that the last time they met the Ferns in the 2015 Netball World Cup, they lost by only an eight-basket margin following a 49-57 defeat.
Yesterday, the national netball team was expected to make amends to their poor form last year that saw them suffering 10-straight losses.
The development means the Queens must embrace a must-win mentality as they face Fiji, who lost 38-83 to Jamaica, in their second match this morning and Jamaica tomorrow to keep alive their hopes of title contention as the three-day competition concludes this Saturday.
In a match followed on Silver Ferns’ Facebook page, Queens could hardly match the tactical and physical approach of their bigger opponents, who made the most of home ground and height advantage at the North Shore Events Centre in Auckland to stifle Malawi’s orthodox attack.
The Ferns started the game on a high note, leading the first quarter 18-6 before increasing the tally to 36-17 at half-time. They rattled the Queens 56-29 at the end of the third segment before creating a 33 basket difference at the sound of the final whistle.
With Malawi’s netball exports—shooters Mwawi Kumwenda and Joyce Mvula alongside defender Laureen Ngwira—being the only players challenging the Ferns’ towering heights, it was difficult for the Queens, who also had Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda, Joanna Kachilika, Takondwa Lwazi and Thandie Galeta in the starting line-up, to cope with the pressure.
Under the loop, Kumwenda managed to score 36 baskets out of 44 attempts while substitutes Jane Chimaliro and Sindi Simtowe-Msowoya had three out of four and three out of five, respectively.
Queens head coach Griffin ‘Zagalo’ Saenda Snr, who did not accompany the team due to an illness, yesterday said such a big margin loss is a cause for worry on their revival campaign.
“The last time we played against New Zealand we lost by a few baskets and the latest loss shows we have a big task on our revival mission. However, we know we will make big improvements in our next games,” he said.
“Almost all the other teams have taller players than us but we will make headway if we stick to our tactical approach of playing quick and short passes.”