A fiercely hard fought encounter last Wednesday evening ended in heartbreak for Malawi Queens at the on-going Diamonds Netball Series in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa where they lost 33-43 to rivals and hosts South Africa’s Spar Proteas.
The Queens have now lost four consecutive games in different competitions to South Africa since their meeting in the finals of the inaugural Diamonds contest in 2012.
But perhaps, what is frustrating is not the loss to their fiercest rivals, but the margin with which they have lost the match.
A 10-basket margin is the biggest for the Queens to suffer at the hands of South Africa as they lost 43-47 in the 2012 Diamonds’ finals and 52-54 during the finals of the 2013 African Netball Championships. They also lost 22-30 during the Fast5 Netball Series in New Zealand last year.
Coach Peace Chawinga-Kalua maintained the first line-up she featured in the 51-40 win over Uganda on Tuesday but, overall, it appeared a naïve squad in this latest episode, which ended 9-13, 16-22 and 24-33 in the three quarters.
Sindi Simtowe seemed shaky whenever she got hold of the ball as she missed four scoring chances in the first-quarter that saw both teams playing it safe by making no substitutions.
In the second-quarter, Grace Mwafulirwa-Mhango sustained a minor thigh injury, but she kept on with the game. However, the encounter proved to be a hardnut to crack for the Queens.
“Despite the loss, we played well only that our shooters were not stable. We will rectify the problem in our next game. The pressure is on us to prove that we deserve the title,” said Chawinga-Kalua in post-match interview monitored on SuperSport 4 digital satellite television (DStv).
The Proteas were much taller than the Queens and they made good use of their height advantage to make quick passes to goal and they rarely missed the target when under the hoop.
In contrast, the Queens made numerous passes unnecessarily before taking the ball to goal and with Simtowe and Mvula’s unbelievable wayward shots on goal, it was difficult to narrow South Africa’s 10 basket cushion in the final-quarter.
The substitution of Mvula, who sustained a knee injury nine minutes to time, for diminutive Ellen Chiboko up-front did not change the state of affairs.
The Queens meet Zambia today in their last group match to see if they can compete for the crown on Friday.
Queens line-up was as follows: Joyce Mvula (Ellen Chiboko) (GS), Sindi Simtowe (GA), Thandi Galeta (WA), Takondwa Lwazi (C), Grace Mwafulirwa-Mhango (WD), Carol Mtukule-Ngwira (GD), Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda (GK).