Malawi national netball team, the Queens, yesterday survived a scare when they settled for a 47-43 triumph over Northern Ireland in the preliminary round second stage of the 2019 Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England.
The four-basket difference came just a few days after the ninth-ranked Queens beat the same team 53-37 during a test match.
The latest win in this six-team Group F encounter has put them on the right path to regaining the top-six slot on the International Netball Federation (INF) world rankings after dropping three places last month.
“Northern Ireland came hard on us today and they looked very much improved as compared to our last meeting in the test match.
“It was quite a relief to have emerged victorious today,” said Queens coach Griffin Saenda.
But the coach admitted that they face a daunting task today as they face top-ranked defending champions Australia’s Diamonds, who they have never beaten before.
The two sides last met at the World Cup in 2011 when the Queens lost 44-58 in the quarter-finals. Malawi also lost 37-64 in a test match in 2013.
“Our biggest match is against Australia tomorrow [today]. However, we know we have to dig deeper if we are to secure a victory after our narrow win against Northern Ireland.
“We will go back to the drawing board to mend our mistakes, especially the misplacement of passes, before we take on Australia,” he said.
Yesterday, the Queens led by only three baskets at the end of the first-quarter on 12-9 before Northern Ireland reduced it by a basket in the second and third segments that ended 22-20 and 34-32, respectively.
In the last quarter, the Queens managed a seven-basket lead before Northern Ireland reduced it to four by the sound of the final whistle.
Centre Takondwa Lwazi was crucial to the Queens’ survival as she made a number of interceptions and clinical passes to shooters Joyce Mvula and Jane Chimaliro. No wonder she was named player of the match.
Statistically, the Queens were behind Northern Ireland save for their excellent shooting accuracy which was at 92 percent against Northern Ireland’s 74.
Malawi took 51 shots at goal against 58 and they conceded 27 turnovers against 24.
Goal-shooter: Mvula. Goal-attacker: Sindi Simtowe-Msowoya (Jane Chimaliro). Wing-attacker: Bridget Kumwenda-Chalera. Centre: Lwazi. Wing-defender: Joana Kachilika. Goal defender: Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda. Goalkeeper: Laureen Ngwira.