Malawi Queens yesterday recovered from a shaky start to beat fast-improving Zimbabwe 59-43 and keep alive their hopes of a top six finish at the ongoing 2019 Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England.
However, according to the format of the global showpiece, the Queens have finished third in six-team Group F with six points, but still need to win this afternoon’s play-offs against a fourth-placed team in Group G to get into the overall fifth or sixth place battle this Sunday.
Malawi will face Uganda’s She Cranes who lost to Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls 61-48 last evening.
The format on www.nwc2019.co.uk states: “The teams finishing third and fourth in groups F [Malawi and Zimbabwe] and G will compete for positions fifth to eight— third in one group plays fourth in the other— with the winner playing off for fifth place and the losers for seventh”.
This means the Queens, who have dropped three steps to ninth on the latest International Netball Federation (INF) World Rankings, must beat either second-ranked Jamaica or sixth-ranked African champions Uganda to be guaranteed an overall top-six finish.
Former Queens coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa yesterday said the Queens’ latest win against Zimbabwe is only a relief on accumulating points for the next rankings’ update as the new format is meant to give all the 16 World Cup contestants an opportunity to play equal number of games at the end of the competition.
Yesterday, it was a scary start for Malawi when Zimbabwe scored four baskets against one in the first minute before the Queens found their rhythm to lead 12-8 at the end of the first quarter.
But with shooter Joyce Mvula and goal-attacker Jane Chimaliro achieving at least 90 percent shooting accuracy and goal-defender Caroline Mtukule-Ngwira and Player-of-the-Match goalkeeper Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda stifling the Zimbabweans’ attacks, the Queens managed to increase their tally from 28-18 and 43-29 in the subsequent segments before earning a deserving 16-margin victory.
“This is great a win for us. It is good that we played as a team and to get a resounding victory although the Zimbabweans kept pressure on us throughout the match,” said Queens’ assistant coach Whyte Mlilima after the match monitored of SuperSport.
He said they are looking forward to their next match and they will do their best to be victorious on their mission to reclaim a top six ranking.
Zimbabwe coach Lloyd Makumbe said they lost because Malawi was more experienced than them and played similar style of netball.