BY GERALD MUTSVAIRO
The Zimbabwe senior netball team, the Gems, have named a provisional squad as they begin preparations for their debut appearance at the World Cup set for Liverpool, England in July this year.
The tournament will run from July 12–21, 2019 at the Echo Arena.
And just over three months before the tournament, the Gems are camping in Harare to prepare for the premier competition in international netball.
Gems coach Lloyd Makunde has stuck with his tried and tested squad in his selection for the tournament, picking most of the players that helped the team qualify.
Headlining the squad, which will be trimmed as the tournament dates draw closer, are talented players such as shooters Pauline Jani and Mercy Mukwadi while captain Perpetua Siyachitema and another veteran Patricia Mauladi also made the list. The team, who started camp on Monday, will play preparatory matches against Uganda next month.
Zimbabwe, who will be making their first appearance at the World Cup, are in a tough group where they will face champions Australia as well as another powerhouse, Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka in Group A.
Zimbabwe are the third best-ranked team in the group at 13th position, with Northern Ireland at eighth – and was one of the eight seeded teams in the draw while Sri Lanka is down at number 26 on the rankings table.
The top three teams in each group advance to the second group stage. The top two teams in the two groups of six in that second phase will then face off in the semi-finals.
Besides Zimbabwe, three other African countries that will be at World Cup are South Africa, Malawi and Uganda.
Zimbabwe earned their place at the showpiece after finishing second at the African Netball Championship held in Zambia last year, a competition which was won by Uganda to book their ticket.
South Africa and Malawi were among the five teams to be given automatic qualification by virtue of their high-ranking positions in the International Netball Federation world rankings, together with Australia, New Zealand and Jamaica.
F Kwanga, R Karume, C Gamuchirai, S Makusha, L Kanyekwere, S Chitiva, P Chiranga, T Dziva, C Matondo, P Siyachitema, N Madzikangawa, C Kwaramba, P Malaudi, L Manjoro, P Tinoza, P Jani, U Ndlovu, M Mukwadi, P Moyo, T Mawango, B Sithole, T Banda