Malawi Queens’ revival mission on the International Netball Federation (INF) World Rankings suffered a blow on Saturday when they lost 47-52 to lower-ranked Wales during a Quad Series match.
Wales are ranked 12th in the world, three steps behind the ninth-placed Queens, but they came from six baskets down in the first quarter to beat Malawi by five baskets and make history for their first ever triumph over their bigger opponents.
The result comes barely a few days after the Queens dropped three places from sixth on the INF World Rankings, which were updated on July 1.
The ongoing Quad Series, which wind up today and involve the Queens, Wales, eighth-ranked Northern Ireland and 11th-placed Barbados, is part of Queens’ tune-ups ahead of the forthcoming Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England between July 12 and 22.
But unlike the recent practice match that saw the Queens losing 44-47 to third-ranked England’s Roses last Wednesday, the Quad Series matches are live wires as they are taken into consideration when coming up with INF world rankings that reduce more rating points for a team that loses to a lower-ranked side.
Former Queens’ captain Emmie Waya-Chongwe said it was a big risk for the Malawi to compete against lower-ranked teams in the Quad Series although the games were crucial for a side that travelled to England without having any strength-testing match and had less than two weeks of camping.
“You have to play frequently against top-ranked teams in test matches to improve on rankings. However, we had no option considering that the Queens’ technical panel and the players bank on these series to analyse their strengths and weaknesses ahead of the World Cup,” she said.
“Nevertheless, the defeat should not eat away their morale but give them the courage and strength to pull up their socks.”
On Saturday, the Queens led15-9 in the first quarter before tying with Wales 25-25 and 38-38 in the second and third segments, respectively. A last-quarter surge saw the hosts turning the tables.
“We were in control of the game until we started misplacing passes. It was quite disappointing,” said UK-based Queens supporter Geoffrey Phiri, who watched the match.
The Queens’ starting line-up had Sindi Simtowe-Msowoya (GS), Jane Chimaliro (GA), Takondwa Lwazi (WA), Thandie Galeta-Saenda (C), Grace Mwafulirwa-Mhango (WD), Caroline Mtukule-Ngwira (GD) and Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda (GK). Joanna Kachilika, Bridget Kumwenda-Chalera, Laureen Ngwira and Alinafe Kamwala featured as substitutes.
Queens’ coach Griffin Saenda was cautious not to feature shooter Joyce Mvula as she is not 100 percent fit after sustaining a knee injury at her club.