Malawi Queens to face giants at Commonwealth games
By Penelope Paliani-Kamanga
BLANTYRE – Malawi National Netball team popularly known as the ‘Queens’ have been drawn in pool B alongside giants New Zealand ahead of the Gold Coast 2018 Games in Australia.
The Queens ranked sixth in the world and second in Africa out of 35 and eight teams have been paired with England, Scotland and Uganda in a draw that was made on Friday last week at Surfers Paradise beach in Australia.
Pool A consists of Australia, Jamaica, South Africa, Barbados, Fiji and Northern Ireland.
The draw which was sanctioned by the International Netball Federation (INF) saw bottom six ranked teams randomly put in two pools to determine the match schedule for the preliminary round robin stage of the competition.
The INF statement about the games stated that each team will play every other team within their pool during the preliminary round matches which will be held at Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre from 5 to 12 April 2018 before culminating into final matches at the Coomera indoor sports center on 14 to 15 April 2018.
Queens assistant Coach, Sam Kanyenda has since welcomed the draw describing it as fair.
“In that group, it is only New Zealand which we have not yet defeated, so we feel it is a fair group. All we need is to start preparations earlier so that we should impress,” he said.
Malawi failed to clinch the continental Championship in Uganda after it was defeated by the hosts. But Kanyenda said that the Queens performance at the Africa Netball Championship was no cause for alarm.
Defending the failure to clinch to the top cup Kanyenda said “That time we were coming from a Prolonged off season break and it was difficult to prepare our team and besides we missed our six key players,” he said.
“Unlike the previous tournament, the commonwealth games will come when netball leagues in the country are at their peaks. This will make it easier for us to train them to the required level,” he said.
Last year the Queens clinched the third place at the Fast5 World Championship series in Australia after beating England 35-32 in one of the upsets of the tournament to secure the third place and their best finish against the top six netball nations and Kanyenda believes they can repeat the defeat.
Netball Association of Malawi (Nam) Secretary General Carol Bapu agreed that the Queens face a tough task to impress at the commonwealth games.
She said New Zealand and England are tough sides and that the Queens need to prepare adequately in the remaining seven months if they are to do well at the tournament.
In 2014 at the same commonwealth games Malawi finished on position five to emerge the best in Africa while Australia were crowned the champions with New Zealand as runners up.