Malawi Queens assistant coach Whyte Mlilima says with good preparations, the Queens could have done better at the Netball World Cup in Liverpool, United Kingdom.
The team finished sixth after going down 68-50 to Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls yesterday at M&S Bank Arena in the fifth place decider.
espite beating Uganda and Northern Ireland, who are above the Queens on last month’s rankings, the Queens were a sitting duck against Jamaica in the fifth place play offs
Their unorthodox style proved impotent compared to Jamaica’s direct netball. From the onset, it was clear that the Queens were in a battle of their life, unless they changed their approach.
With the Queens were wasting their time passing around the ball trying to get an opening to get to star shooter Joyce Mvula, Jamaica needed just three passes to get into the ring for their 1.9 metre-shooter Jhaniele Fowler to score.
The Sunshine Girls took an early lead, scoring five goals before Malawi responded through Mvula.
Sensing the danger, assistant coach Whyte Mlilima pulled out struggling Caroline Mtukule for Laureen Ngwira in an effort to tame Fowler.
But the Sunshine Girls maintained their lead of seven goals as the first quarter ended 20-13 in their favour.
The second quarter was the Queens’ best as they put Jamaica under pressure with Mvula on the onslaught and managed to level the scores 25-25.
But the Jamaicans recovered in time and restored their lead to win the quarter with scores at 37-28 at half time and went onto win third quarter 52-41 (by 16 goals to nine), and the match by 18 overall.
After the match, Mlilima conceded that the Queens had not improved.
“We are not happy with the position six because that where we have been stuck all along. We need more friendlies to expose our players otherwise it was not a bad competition for our girls,” he said.
Asked what went wrong, Mlilima cited the team’s lack of adequate preparations for the tournament.
“You could see that we were building a team right at the tournament. And with such tall players like the Jamaicans it is difficult to win,” he said.
Mvula also felt the team could have done better.
“We can’t be too happy because we are sixth. That means that there are six teams in front of us. We need to try to beat others in front of us but we will have to work hard to do that,” she said.
Netball analyst Chimwemwe Nyirenda could not agree more with Mlilima and Mvula, saying getting sixth position was just a bonus for the poorly prepared team.
“Considering that [going to the tournament] we are on position nine in the world and our preparations were not good at all, beating Uganda and Northern Ireland is a plus without Mwawi Kumwenda is a plus,” he said.