BY MAGRETH RUZVIDZO
Zimbabwe senior netball coach Lloyd Makunde expects to face a tough run at the upcoming Pent Series and African Championships that will be held in Namibia soon, since the team has been inactive for a long period.
The Gems last played a competitive game in the 2019 African Championships hosted by South Africa while local players were idle due to COVID-19 restrictions.
In an interview with NewsDay Sport, Makunde said his team would have a difficult campaign considering that they face teams that were in better shape.
The competition features Botswana, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the hosts Namibia.
“We are obviously expecting competition since most of our opponents have been playing whilst we were idle.”
“We started light training on Tuesday and we are going to make sure our players are conditioned to suit the level of competition we are going to face in both competitions,” he added.
Makunde, who also expressed confidence in his squad, noted that the previously held tournaments by the Premier Netball League (PNL) and Rainbow Amateur Netball League (RANL) have played a pivotal role in helping them identify players to pick in the squad.
“Thank God for the tournaments.
They really helped a lot, but we would have wanted more time to observe the players’ performances,” he said.
The two leagues hosted one-day tournaments building towards the start of their respective leagues.
The Pent Series was previously scheduled for June this year before it was moved to between November 1 and 5 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Gems will be looking to build on their success at their maiden appearance at the Vitality Netball World Cup in England where they finished eighth in the 16-team tournament.
Team captain Felistus Kwangwa renewed her contract with Surrey Storm on Wednesday for the 2022 season.
A 17-member squad has been put together for the two tournaments.
Felistus Kwangwa (Surrey Storm), Claris Kwaramba, Progress Moyo, Lynette Tanhira, Priscilla Ndlovu (all from Platinum Queens), Sharon Bwanali, Patricia Mauladi,Tafadzwa Matura, Beatrice Busu (all from ZDF), Queen Sigauke, Kudakwashe Machongwe (both from Correctional Queens), Paidamoyo Tinoza, Arsula Ndlovu ( both from Glow Petroleum), Sinethemba Ncube, Nobukhosi Ndlovu (both from Goldreef), Tatenda Dziva (Mixtures).
Follow Magreth on Twitter @MagrethRuzvidzo