Malawi Queens, smarting from last month’s damaging six-game losing streak in New Zealand, seek redemption when rebounding onto the international netball court against third-ranked England at Copper Box, London in a test match.
Ranked number one in Africa and fifth in the world out of some 35 national teams, Queens have their rating and pride to protect in England.
Both teams, who wind up with another game this Saturday at the University Arena, Worcester are shaping up for the March 2015 World Cup in Australia. Malawi lost to England last month in New Zealand.
To be broadcast on Skysport HD before a sell-out crowd of 5 000, Queens’ arrival in England has, if media coverage is anything to go by, evidently captured the imagination of netball faith with pundits focusing on coach Mary Waya’s inspiration to the young team missing star shooter Mwawi Kumwenda, centres Beatrice Mpinganjira and Tina Kamzati-Jahness.
Queens are the darling of the netball planet owing to their unorthodox play, so let us face it, the English expect thrills. They expect captain defender Caroline Mtukule-Ngwira’s twists and turns, goalkeeper Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda’s leaps. They also expect goal shooter Sindi Simtowe to dance in the air and score with her usual telling ease.
SkySport netball pundit Anita Navin in her analysis headlined ‘Malawi’s development onto the world scene is here to stay’ says Queens’ development has been spectacular and that Waya was a star on the psyche of Africa netball.
“Malawi certainly entertain and Mary Waya’s squad will provide a crowd spectacle with the display of flair and athleticism of the Queens. That said, there is a wave of increased confidence after the selection news; so is this the start of England’s campaign for a World Cup podium place?” Navin wrote yesterday.
England Netball website adds: “It will be a fantastic way to end the netball year. There will also be plenty of flair, passion and energy on display as Malawi bring their unique style of play to our shores during the festive season.”
Waya said she was starting from scratch to add depth in every department to mitigate the future absence of regulars. Martha Dambe, Loraine Ngwira and Beauty Nyangulu represent the Queens next generation.
“By the time we get closer to the World Cup, we want to have a strong team. England play a very fast game, which should give the up-and-coming players a test of character. We are rebuilding in every department and the girls need encouragement,” the Queens coach said.