Shelly Guni, Sports Reporter
THE Zimbabwe national netball team rounded off their African Netball Championships campaign with a disappointing 71-48 defeat at the hands of a fired up Malawi to settle for fourth place in Cape Town, South Africa yesterday.
The fourth place finish for the Gems is, however, a fitting achievement for a team that endured shambolic preparations for the continent’s biggest tournament, which saw them arrive right on the opening day last Friday.
Resultantly, the Gems lost two points for missing their opening match which was awarded to Uganda on a 60-0 score line.
The Gems went on to lose 69-39 to hosts South Africa in their second match before redeeming themselves with successive deserved victories against Lesotho (79-22), Kenya (68-35), and Zambia (57-51) respectively.
However, their bid for a podium finish came stuck yesterday when they were given a rare netball lesson by Malawi in a hugely lopsided affair to settle for fourth place.
Yesterday’s defeat followed up a 59-43 defeat Gems suffered to the same opponents at the Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England in July this year.
Gems coach Ropafadzo Mutsauki accepted defeat but at the same praised his team for the manner they performed.
“Overall, the team played very well. They played as a team,” said Ropafadzo after the match.
“Malawi play a physical game and my team failed to cope.
The Gems suffered an early blow in yesterday’s game after Goal shooter Joice Takaidza got injured in the first quarter.
She was replaced by Linda Nkorongo who carried on with the game until the final whistle with the help of in-form goal-attack Sharon Bwanali who had a decent tournament and was strongly in contention for player of the tournament.