Malawi netball has slumped to its worst year-end on International Netball Federation (IFN) world rankings after finishing seventh, a position outside the Fast5 Netball World Series qualification bracket.
IFN published the rankings on its website on Sunday, placing Uganda on sixth, a position Malawi held for much of the past decade.
On the continental ladder, the Queens have slipped from second to third with South Africa coming first and Uganda displacing them again on second spot.
Reacting to the development, Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) general secretary Carol Bapu blamed the fall on their failure to play more test matches in the year.
“The INF compiles rankings, based on points that teams accumulate and they have even included the figures in the December release. While we wish we could have regained second position on the continent and sixth place in the world, we are not disappointed,” she said.
Despite the poor ranking, Nam described the year as successful.
“You will see that 2019 has been better for the Queens despite poor preparations. We finished sixth at the Netball World Cup and second at the Africa Netball Cup,” she said.
Malawi beat Uganda at both the World Cup and Africa Netball Cup and finished higher than the east African nation at both tournaments.
However, Uganda were ranked highly because, according to NAM, they accumulated more points through test matches.
“We may have beaten the likes of Uganda who are above us in rankings, but the She Cranes also gained more points by playing more test series against high ranked teams to gain more points,” said Bapu.
Queens senior player Joana Kachilika said Uganda’s success should push Malawi to improve.
“This year, we managed to beat them, but the fact that they have won the ranking battle means that we have to improve our performances and play more test matches,” she said.
IFN explained on its website the ranking formula: “The number of points earned by a team for any match depends on two factors. The result (won, tied or lost) and the opponent against whom the result was achieved. The higher an opponent’s rating the more points are earned for beating them.”
If the Queens do not improve their standing, they are in danger of missing next year’s Fast5 as only top six ranked teams are allowed to compete.
According to rules, Malawi must be in the top six to qualify for the next Commonwealth Games and World Cup to be staged in 2022 and 2023, respectively.