From being Malawi netball Queensâ€™ inspiration not too long ago, Mary Waya could be her former coach Griffin Saendaâ€™s biggest threat this afternoon.
At the African Netball Championship inside Dar es Salaamâ€™s National Stadium in Tanzania, it will be tutor versus student when Saendaâ€™s charges line up against hosts Tanzaniaâ€™s Taifa Queens whose backroom team include the Malawi netball great, Waya.
It would even be more challenging as the Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) president Rosy Chinunda on Tuesday admitted that the Saenda girls were clueless on the hostsâ€™ pedigree.
“We rate our chances highly, but we will have to watch the Zambians and Tanzanians play today to gauge their strength. We know Tanzania have Waya but there is nothing I can say. We just greeted her,” Chinunda explained in a telephone interview
The championship started on Tuesday, but Queens will play their first game today (Wednesday) after encountering a series of hitches, including reported substandard accommodation and delayed fixtures.
Malawiâ€™s open the 10-day championship with Zambia in the morning before challenging the hosts, who are coached by European expatriate Mary Protas with Waya as the consultant, in the afternoon.
Chinunda played down the tournamentâ€™s organisation hitches, which the Queens experienced before the start of the championship whose opening ceremony on Tuesday attracted Tanzania First Lady Mama Salma Kikwete.
“We are not affected. We have been granted the standard of accommodation we wanted,” assured the NAM boss.
So tight are the fixtures that Malawi will take on Lesotho Thursday morning, then Zimbabwe in the afternoon. The action will continue on Friday when Saenda engages Uganda in the morning before entertaining Botswana.
The tournament is sanctioned by the International Federation of Netball Associations (Ifna); hence, will have a bearing on the next world rankings. With South Africaâ€™s Proteas absent on the line-up, Malawi Queens can garner more points for the rankings.
As we went to press, Taifa Queens were going head-to-head against Lesotho with Protas telling Tanzaniaâ€™s Citizen newspaper that she was confident of a winning start.
“We are strong mentally and I remain confident that we will start the tournament brightly. There is a bit of pressure for everyone, but then again it goes with the territory and it should be the kind of pressure we should use to motivate ourselves,” Protas was quoted as saying.
The tournament involves Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya, Zambia, Botswana, Uganda and hosts Tanzania.