Malawi Queens yesterday flew to South Africa for Tri-Nation Test Series against hosts, the Spar Proteas and England’s Vitality Roses confident of proving they are ready to compete with the two netball giants.
Straight from Cosana Tri-Nation tourney victory over lowly-ranked Namibia and Zimbabwe, the Queens face test of character against the Vitality Roses, who are ranked third and South Africa’s Spar Proteas ranked fifth.
The test series will be the last preparatory matches ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England next month.
Seventh-ranked Queens have not beaten South Africa since surrendering the Africa Netball Championship crown in 2013 and are yet to taste victory against England.
But Malawi Queens exports Joyce Mvula and Towera-Vinkhumbo, in an interview yesterday before flying to South Africa, said they can end the two sides’ dominance only if they have mental strength.
“I know we are not under pressure to win the games for they will not be used when determining the next rankings. However, we need to put up a gallant fight to prove that we are no pushovers despite our recent drop on world rankings,” said Mvula, who has joined the squad after inspiring Manchester Thunder to the United Kingdom’s Vitality Superleague Netball title.
The 28-year-old, who has signed for New Zealand giants Central Pulse ahead of the next season, observed that the Queens need to avoid misplacement of passes as that gives their higher-ranked opponents an dvantage.
On her part, Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda, who plays for Strathclyde Sirens in the UK, said though England and South Africa have a slight technical advantage over the Queens, they are not invincible.
She said: “We will be playing against players that have height advantage and are very knowledgeable of the technicalities of the game.
“We are also aware that Malawians are eager to see us deliver against higher-ranked teams. This is why we have to give our all and fight for our pride.”
But Queens coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa said she will not put her charges under pressure to win the games because her target is to have a clear picture of the team’s performance against the big opponents.
She said the matches will give her a chance to feature all her 15 players and assess the areas that need improvement ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
Chawinga-Kaluwa said: “Unlike the recent Cosana Tri-Nation Cup, which restricted me to feature only 12 players, the games against South Africa and England give me freedom to test all the players in the squad. That will help me to have a clear picture of which players to pick for the Commonwealth Games.
“Moreover, the fact that these matches are not ranked but are against some of the best teams in the world, gives me an opportunity to enhance the players’ mental strength.”
Netball Association of Malawi vice-president Chimwemwe Bakali said the Queens are not under pressure to win their games.
The Queens were expected to arrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last night and will connect to Cape Town, South Africa, today at 8.15 and expectedd to arrive at 1.35pm.