Malawi Queens have vowed to go flat out and beat Barbados by the widest score-margin possible today in their rehearsal match ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast Australia.
The match against the 11th ranked Barbados will be the last test of character for the sixth-ranked Queens before they begin their Commonwealth Games campaign against third-ranked England’s Roses this Friday.
This follows their participation in the four-nation Taini Jamison Trophy in New Zealand last week, when they exposed their slump in form as they lost by 33 baskets to second-ranked New Zealand’s Silver Ferns.
The last time they met in the 2015 Netball World Cup, the Queens lost by only eight baskets. They also beat 12th-ranked Fiji Pearls by 15 baskets but previously the gap was 30.
This means if the Queens beat Barbados by at least 30 baskets, it would probably be an impressive litmus test result considering that the last time the two sides met in a competitive match during the World Netball Championship in Singapore in 2011, Malawi triumphed by 29 baskets following a 73-44 triumph.
“Although our encounter against Barbados is a mere rehearsal for the Commonwealth Games, we have left no stone unturned in our bid to win the match by the widest basket margin possible to prove our readiness for the prestigious competition,” said Queen’s physical trainer Griffin Saenda Jnr.
Star shooter Mwawi Kumwenda, who plays for Melbourne Vixens in Australia, yesterday said the morale is high in the squad and “we have left no stone unturned to get the best results and we are eager to make the country proud”.
At the games, the Queens are expected to maintain or improve their current world ranking after a not-so-good performance for the past year in which they suffered their first defeat by a lower-ranked team when they lost 43-66 to 2017 Africa Netball Championship eventual champions and hosts Uganda, who have since moved up six places to seventh ranking.
The Malawi national netball team, which is in Pool B alongside New Zealand, England, Wales, Scotland and Uganda, has been at all but one netball event of the Commonwealth Games and their best finish has been position five in 2010 and 2014. Pool A has Australia, Jamaica, South Africa, Fiji, Barbados, and Northern Ireland.
So far, the Queens have won 13 of the 23 matches they played at the games and were among the highest scorers in 2014 with 352 baskets. Then, Kumwenda was the top scorer with 230 baskets.
In Australia, Malawi has the most experienced squad as nine of the 12 players, namely Jane Chimaliro, Joanna Kachilika, Kumwenda, Takondwa Lwazi, Caroline Mtukule-Ngwira, Joyce Mvula, Loreen Ngwira, Sindi Simtowe and Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda featured during the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
On the other hand, Martha Dambo, Thandi Galeta and Bridget Kumwenda are making their debut appearance.
Meanwhile, all Queens matches will be live on DSTV’s SuperSport and Kwese Television’s Free Sports
Queens full fixtures
April 6 Malawi vs England 10:20am
April 7 Uganda vs Malawi 4:50am
April 8 Malawi vs New Zealand 2pm
April 11 Malawi vs Wales 1.50 pm
April 12 Scotland vs Malawi 6.50am. n