Malawi’s hopes of making it to the semi-finals play-offs at the Netball World Cup hit a wall yesterday after the Queens succumbed to 74-25 humiliating defeat to defending champions Australia’s Diamonds in Liverpool, England.
After struggling to overcome Northern Ireland on Monday, it was obvious that Malawi Queens needed to be at their best when facing the world’s top-ranked team and defending champions.
Though coach Griffin Saenda had promised to rectify some of the team’s shortfalls, the blunders resurfaced and the team was embarrassed by the 49-goal margin loss.
The Queens failed to keep the ball as they misplaced passes more especially in centre court and conceded turnovers.
Australia, on the other hand, attacked with speed down the court and shot with precision.
At one end, Queens shooter Alinafe Kamwala, who started ahead of injured Joyce Mvula, was having a torrid time battling against powerful built Australian goalkeeper Courtney Bruce. She only managed two goals in the first quarter.
At the other end, Laureen Ngwira failed to police towering shooter Caitlin Basset who was scoring at will.
In the centre court, the battle was also not in favour of the Queens as Sindi Simtowe, Thandi Galeta and Bridget Kumwenda were outmuscled by the Diamonds.
Australia won every quarter, stretching to a 7-2 lead after eight minutes before wrapping the first-quarter 21-2.
The second quarter was not different. The Queens will rue moments when lapses in concentration allowed the defending champions to break away.
The Diamonds banged in 20 goals while Malawi just managed three as the half scores ended 41-5.
But the third quarter proved Malawi’s best as the Queens managed to score nine baskets, thanks to the coming in of Takondwa Lwazi and Jane Chimaliro who immediately made an impact.
The Diamonds, on the other hand, added 20 more goals as the quarter ended 61-14.
The last quarter was another routine as the Diamonds finished their mission scoring 13 goals while Malawi improved their tally to 11.
But the Queens did not let the big margin dampen their spirits as they finished in style scoring the last two goals much to the delight of neutrals watching as the match ended 74-25.
The Queens assistant coach Whyte Mlilima said they deliberately rested some players, including Mvula, to give them an opportunity to recover for the next game against Zimbabwe on Thursday.
“It was deliberate. We knew the game against Australia would be tough.
“So, we rested some players so that they are ready for the match against Zimbabwe which will decide our fate,” he said.
Two top teams from Group F Australia and New Zealand will proceed to semi-finals play-offs where they will play teams on same positions in Group G (most likely England and South Africa).
Third and fourth placed teams (mostly likely Malawi and Zimbabwe) will play those who will finish on the same positions in Group G (most likely Jamaica or Uganda) in placement matches.