Malawiâ€™s Queens basked in the global limelight on Friday morning when they gave the world its cinderella tale of the year with a stunning 33-15 victory over world champions Australia in their opening match of the Fast5 Netball World Series at Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.
But just as the Queens were on course to win the second game against Jamaica, as they led 31-29, the sky fell on them when they conceded a super goal in the last minute to lose 32-31. It was a case of being so near and yet so far.
Despite the loss to Jamaica, the strong-willed Queens were feted like queens, by a sporting world hungry for the global appeal of feel-good tales of the biblical little David that brings down Goliath.
Inspired by captain Caroline Mtukule-Ngwira, gangling shooter Mwawi Kumwenda, goal-attacker Sindi Simtowe and goalkeeper Towera Vinkhumbo, the Queens floated like butterflies, but stung like bees.
They simply turned on the magic with a polished performance that dazzled Australia into submission. The Queens led 17-11 at three-quarter time.
Australia were subjected to a netballing masterclass, relentlessly torn apart and even their captain Ellisa Mcleod appeared bemused after the game.
â€œWe need to recover from this shock defeat in the coming games,â€ said McLeod.
Kumwenda was deadly accurate from all three scoring zones, netting 27 of the Queensâ€™ 33 baskets, it was a magnificent show, absolutely superb.
Mtukule-Ngwira was over the moon: â€œWe are excited with the win and we promise fireworks in the coming games. We want to get far in this competition.â€
The Queens danced jigs of celebration after the match monitored on SuperSport 4.
In the second match, the Queens led in the first three quarters 8-6, 16-12 and 26-20 respectively, including a magnificent basket from Simtowe, but somehow lost the plot in the final quarter.
But Mtukule-Ngwira said they would work on their shortfalls ahead of their next games on Saturday.
â€œI think we were just unlucky to concede that late basket that counted-three points, but weâ€™ll fight on,â€ she said.
Former Queens captain and assistant coach Peace Chawinga-Kalua hailed the fighting spirit of the Queens.
â€œIf they can work on their endurance, then they should get far. It was a superb show,â€ said Chawinga-Kalua.