The inevitable has happened. The Malawi National Netball Team have dropped a single place to seventh on the latest World Netball rankings after being displaced by Uganda’s She-Cranes.
According to the latest update on World Netball website www.netball.sport.com, She-Cranes are sixth with 126 points, a point better than the Malawi Queens.
The development means the Queens are now outside the automatic qualification slots for prestigious competitions such as the Commonwealth Games and the Fast5 Netball Series.
The Queens’ fall is the only change in the top 10 as Australia remain at the summit with 199 points, followed by New Zealand on 185. England, Jamaica and South Africa are third with 178, fourth with 175 and fifth with 156, respectively.
“The rankings are based on matches played from March 31 2021 up to December 5, 2021,” the website explains.
Reacting to the development yesterday, Queens coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa said: “The development is a true reflection of the Malawi national netball team’s performance this year.”
Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) general secretary Isaac Chimwala yesterday attributed the Queens’ fall on rankings to their inactivity for the better part of the year.
“While our counterparts including Uganda gained more rating points through playing a number of games throughout the year we recoiled until our participation in the Pent Series and the Africa Netball Championship,” he said.
“We need to play a good number of games even before the Commonwealth Games in July to effectively get into the recovery path much earlier. However, a bitter lesson has been learnt and we have to move forward.”
Nevertheless, the writing has been on the wall for the Queens as, within the last two months, they lost 59-43 to Uganda in the Pent Series Tournament in Namibia and settled for a 44-44 draw in the Africa Netball Championship .
At the just-concluded Africa Netball Championship in Namibia, Malawi finished third while Uganda were runners-up on better basket difference after a tie on points.
Out of the eight games they played at the continental championship, the Queens won six, lost once (56-39 to eventual defending and the continent’s top-ranked team South Africa) before the stalemate with Uganda.
Prior to the Pent Series and the Africa Netball Championships, the Queens had 124 rating points while the She-Cranes had 122. The latest rankings update indicates that Malawi gained only a single rating point as Uganda accumulated four.
According to World Netball, 2021 has been a busy period for netball and exciting for so many teams to return to the court following the extended period of lockdowns due to Covid-19. The Queens are expected to build a strong team ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England in July 2022 and the Netball World Cup in South Africa in 2023.