Shelly Guni, Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE senior netball team coach Lloyd Makunde is unfazed as he prepares to start life without long-serving captain Perpetua Siyachitema, who stepped down following the Gems’ participation at the 2019 Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England.
Questions have resurfaced on how the Gems will fare ahead of the Africa Netball Championships set for Capetown in South Africa later this month, in the absence of Siyachitema, who had become a permanent feature in the Zimbabwe netball team for the past 15 years.
But while there is no doubt Siyachitema’s experience will be greatly missed, Makunde seems relaxed and believes they will be able to unearth another gem that will fit well into the former captain’s shoes as he prepares to name the team for the Africa Netball Championships set for October 18-22.
It appears Makunde is taking some comfort from the emerging talent of such wing-attacks like Platinum Queens’ Nomagugu Makhalima, Lorraine Manjoro of Correctional Queens and Beaulah Hlongwane of Glow Petroleum Queens.
Manjoro was an understudy at the Netball World Cup in England after travelling as a reserve player while Makhalima and Hlongwane are in top form at their respective clubs in the Rainbow Amateur Netball League season which is currently underway.
“It’s going to be different considering she (Siyachitema) was the most experienced and also the team captain,” Makunde told H-Metro.
“At least we knew way before the World Cup that she was retiring and we have been doing our homework to come up with the best possible replacement.”
Apparently, Makunde will also be without prolific goal-shooter Pauline Jani and Rudo Karume, who also announced their retirement at the end of the Netball World Cup. But to him it’s not much of a deal as he has a huge pool to select players.
“They (players) actually learnt some things in Liverpool. That was the reason why we went with them. Moreover, there are some players out there who are playing well for consideration,” Makunde said.
Makunde is also keeping his fingers crossed for the availability of foreign-based pair of Joyce Takaidza and Adelaide Muswe for the Championships.
“I’m not really sure yet because it involves funding for air tickets,” he said of the foreign-based players.
The Gems are currently ranked fourth in Africa.
At last year’s African Championships the Gems finished third as South Africa did not took part and will have everything to fight for in this year’s edition to maintain their position.