Malawi Queens’ coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa has said she will throw into service all uncapped players during the three test series against continental rivals Spar Proteas.
The test series start this evening at Sun City where shooters Tendai Masamba and Mary Nyirenda alongside up-and-coming defenders Juliet Sambo, Beauty Basiyao and Maggie Sikwese will make their debuts.
The coach yesterday said she believes the five uncapped players will pass the test .
Masamba and Nyirenda are tasked to cover the big hole left by star shooters—Australia-based Mwawi Kumwenda and England-based Joyce Mvula—who excused themselves from national duty due to pother commitments.
Sambo, Basiyao and Sikwese are also expected to prove their worth in defence line.
The team also has, in its fold, 10 experienced players in shooters Sindi Simtowe-Msowoya and Jessica Mazengera-Sanudi; attackers Thandi Galeta, Takondwa Lwazi-Mtonga, Bridget Kumwenda and Beatrice Mpinganjira and defenders Martha Dambo, Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda, Grace Mwafulirwa-Mhango and captain Caroline Mtukule-Ngwira.
Said Chawinga-Kaluwa yesterday: “The new faces in the squad have so far done well during our preparations and I could not believe that they could catch up so fast with the demands of playing in the senior national team.
“For sure, we have big expectations from them on the big stage against South Africa and all they need is encouragement. In spite of that, we believe in teamwork. The mood in our camp is very good and all the players are ready for the showdown.”
She said all the 15 players in her squad will have an opportunity of featuring in the imminent games this evening, tomorrow evening and Sunday afternoon because “while we are determined to win the matches, we need to balance youth and experience”.
Meanwhile, Mvula yesterday travelled to England where she is expected to start pre-season training with her club Manchester Thunder.
Yesterday, she told The Nation her absence from the national team was due to some logistical hiccups and not an alleged influence by a certain official to disregard the Queens’ call-up.
“I heard from some quarters that I am unavailable for national duties because I was influenced by a certain official,” she said.
“However, the truth of the matter is that I could not make it because of visa challenges and my club’s insistence that I should arrive in England on time for pre-season games. As I am talking, I am on my way to England where I will be quarantined for 14 days before joining my club.”
Netball Association of Malawi president Khungekile Matiya also confirmed getting wind of an official’s alleged influence in Mvula’s absence.
She said: “We also heard about it and followed it up with the person in question, but she dismissed the claim.”
Meanwhile, South Africa coach Dorette Badenhorst has since named her final 15-player squad, comprising at least eight overseas-based professionals, including their captain Bongiwe Msomi, ahead of the encounters.
Queens, who are sixth on the world netball rankings, last met fifth-ranked Spar Proteas during the 2019 African Netball Championships in South Africa where Malawi lost 56-51. In their last five games, South Africa has been dominant with four wins and a loss.