Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) says following the latest rankings in which the Queens have maintained sixth position in the world, Malawi has earned automatic qualification to 2019 Netball World Cup.
According to a comminique from International Netball Federation (INF) only the five top-ranked—Australia, England, New Zealand, Jamaica and South Africa—were supposed to earn automatic qualification.
But since England are hosts, the Queens, who are ranked sixth, have sneaked in automatically as the fifth top-ranked team.
NAM general secretary Carol Bapu said: “Maintaining the sixth position has helped us earn automatic qualification without going through the continental qualifiers.”
However, despite the Queens’ automatic qualification, they will still participate at the Africa Netball Championship in Zambia next month, that will be used to identify the other two representatives from Africa.
Bapu said they will use the competition to score more points on rankings.
“These games matter because they are used for rankings. Apart from that, we also want to use the Africa Netball Championship as preparation for the World Cup,” she said.
The result from the competition will not affect the Queens as one the teams that have automatically qualified for the World Cup.
But this will not make the Queens approach the Zambia tournaments casually, according to Bapu.
“Our target is to win the championship,” she said.
But Africa’s top-ranked team South Africa, will not participate in the continental tournament.
Coach Griffin Saenda said the Africa Netball Championship would be ideal to launch World Cup preparations.
“July 2019 is indeed not far away. We need to start early preparations for the competition,” he said.
Sixteen teams will compete at the netball’s biggest tournament set for July 2019 in Liverpool.
The other 10 teams will have to make it through qualifiers from International Netball Federation (INF) five affiliates—Africa, Asia, Americas, Europe and Oceania.
The World Cup will be played on a new format with three stages—the preliminaries stage one, preliminaries stage two and the play-offs and placings matches.
The teams finishing first and second in groups will go through to the semi-finals, with the top placed team in each group facing the second placed team in the other group.
The winners of each semi-final will compete for gold in the final, with the losers playing for bronze.
Australia are defending champions after winning the 2015 edition of the tournament where Mwawi Kumwenda was named Player of the Tournament and the Queens finished sixth. n