Gems learn hard lesson

Coach Ropafadzo Mutsauki says they still have a lot to work ahead of the World Cup following a chastening loss against England

ZIMBABWE . . . . . . . 36

ENGLAND . . . . . . . .  64

ZIMBABWE national netball team coach Ropafadzo Mutsauki says they still have a lot to work ahead of the World Cup following a chastening loss against England yesterday in Cape Town, South Africa.

This was the first friendly match for the team and they are set to face Barbados tomorrow before taking on Scotland and Wales on Wednesday.

The team arrived  in South Africa on Thursday and commenced their training session on Saturday before playing against England yesterday.

The Gems are playing these friendlies to fine-tune and assess the team’s state of preparedness before the global showpiece scheduled for July 28 to August 6 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Zimbabwe is in Pool A  and will play their opener against the top-ranked Australia on Friday before taking on Fiji and  Tonga.

In yesterday's match,  the first quarter ended 13-9 in favour of England which widened to 33-14 by half time.

The Gems, however, improved in the third and fourth quarters which ended on 47-26 and 64-36, respectively, with the match  ending with a 28 points deficit

"We have a lot of things to improve especially the aspect of having patience- we rush to release the ball or to feed whilst the opponent will be timing. So, its better to protect the ball than to waste it because if you lose the ball unnecessarily and fail to convert your centre pass, you lose the game. But overal, it was a game well played,” said Mutsauki.

"We managed to score 36 goals and looking at England’s  world ranking, its a very good score and we gave them a good run. We have areas where we must improve, especially the first half of the game. The conversion rate was low in the first half though we later improved in the second half. We must make use of the first half because if you lead in that half, it means in the second half you will be protecting what you already have."

 Mutsauki said the game was an eye opener on what they must work on before the tournament proper gets underway.

"This match helped us to note a lot of things  which must improve, including some of the issues we thought we were doing correctly. In terms of combinations, we managed to assess also our different combinations against a strong side thereby making this game really crucial in our preparations," he said.

The match against England was the first competitive  match for the Gems after they last played in the Diamond Challenge in November last year. They faced Scotland, South Africa and the President's XII  in which they drew one game against Scotland and lost the rest.

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