Gems fall to Malawi Queens

Liverpool — Malawi yesterday recorded a 59-43 win over African rivals Zimbabwe to secure third place in Group F today.

The Queens continued their impressive tournament so far, and have now given themselves a real chance of securing a top six finish.

The match was the first ever World Cup meeting between the sides, who had both impressed during the tournament so far.

Malawi were able to bring Joyce Mvula back into the team, while Zimbabwe were again backed by their increasing band of supporters, whose vocal and vibrant
backing of their team – World Cup debutants – has become a fantastic feature of the competition.

It was the Zimbabweans who started the better, taking advantage of what was a scrappy start to the game to establish a 4-1 lead, but some good work defensively
from Towera Vinkhumbo allowed Malawi to find their feet, and then come roaring back.

Mvula and the ever-dependable Jane Chimaliro helped to take the scoreline out to 10-5 in the Queens’ favour, before the teams traded goals in a more even
period, to end the first quarter at 12-8 to the Malawians.

Zimbabwe brought on the talismanic figure of Pauline Jani for the second quarter, and she made a positive impact, scoring with her first three attempts early
on in the quarter.

However, the dominant figure in the goal third was undoubtedly Vinkhumbo, and her assured play was replicated further up the court as Malawi embarked upon a
scoring streak.

They took their lead out to ten (22-12) midway through the quarter, and despite a mini Zimbabwean revival – encouraged by their passionate support – the margin
stayed consistent at half time, with Malawi going in 28-18 up.

The Queens took that momentum into the third quarter, scoring the first seven goals of the segment as Vinkhumbo’s outstanding performance continued, and Mvula
and Chimaliro continued to work well together in the opposing circle.

Joice Takaidza registered Zimbabwe’s first goal of the quarter six minutes in, and the Zim Gems put together a much more cohesive performance in the second
half of the quarter, eventually only losing it by four.

However, Malawi’s overall lead was growing, and was out to 43-29 by the end of the third period.

The final quarter was to prove the tightest of the game, as Zimbabwe put together an impressive finish, but Malawi had done more than enough to sew up victory
and go into the play-off and placing games with real confidence.

The outstanding Vinkhumbo was replaced with three minutes left – Malawi’s first change of the match – while there was a more worrying substitution for
Zimbabwe, who saw Takaidza leave the arena via a wheelchair after a collision. Malawi will now play the fourth-placed finishers in Group G to determine who
will play-off for fifth place.

Player of the match Vinkhumbo said: “We are happy because we wanted to beat Zimbabwe. They are a tough team and they have been doing good in their games so
far, so we really wished to win this game.

“I am so pleased with my performance because it’s motivated me for the games remaining. I knew that if I intercepted more balls, it would give an advantage to
our side.”

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