The Malawi Queens roared to a good start at the African Netball Championship at the Lugogo MTN Arena in Kampala, Uganda yesterday when they gavedefending champions Zimbabwe a 55-45 beating.
However, they need to work extra hard in their second match this afternoon when they face the high-flying Uganda’s She Cranes, who had an emphatic 72-29 win against Botswana in their opening match on Saturday before thumping Namibia 69-31 yesterday..
Yesterday, the Queens played consistent netball in the first two quarters, but fatigue seemed to have taken its toll on the relatively inexperienced national team in the third and fourth segments, where they allowed their opponents to reduce the basket deficit with ease.
The Griffin ‘Zagalo’ Saenda-coached side led by eight baskets in the first quarter, but Zimbabwe had reduced the arrears by half at the sound of the final whistle.
With England-based shooter Joyce Mvula and attacker Jane Chimaliro dictating affairs under the loop, the Queens got off to a 17-9 lead in the first quarter before taking the tally to 28-21 and 40-36 in the subsequent segments.
Saenda played it safe by making substitutions only in the last quarter where he pulled out Chimaliro and wing attacker Bridget Kumwenda for Jessica Mazengera-Sanudi and Beatrice Mpinganjira, respectively.
The first seven comprised Mvula, Chimaliro, Kumwenda, centre Thandi Galeta-Saenda, wing-defender Wezzie Mzemba-Msiska, goal-defender Martha Dambo and goalkeeper Joanna Kachilika, who is the team’s captain.
Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) general secretary Carol Bapu described the win as a big boost ahead of this afternoon’s encounter against the She Cranes.
“They have started very well, we hope tomorrow they will continue from today’s performance,” she said. n