Massive blow for Gems World Cup hopes

Massive blow for Gems World Cup hopes

THE Zimbabwe netball team’s hopes of progressing to the next stage of the 2023 Netball World Cup suffered a massive blow after they suffered a shock 52-48 defeat to lowly-ranked Fiji  in Cape Town, South Africa yesterday.

It was the Gems’ second defeat in the competition after they were hammered by Australia a humiliating 86-30 in their opening match on Friday.

Now the Gems will need to beat Tonga in a must win encounter to avoid elimination from the competition this evening.

The Gems, who had an impressive debut at the World Cup in Liverpool four years ago after they finished eighth, were hoping to go a step further and reach the last four this time around.

But losing to the weakest team in Group A has not helped the team’s cause.

Assistant coach Tatenda Shinya believes the team can still bounce back.

"We still have a long way to go and our job heading into tomorrow's (today) game, we just need to come out from our losses and step up.

"Tonga is a good side and they have improved a lot, but we don't keep ourselves out- we do better if we believe in ourselves and focus on our tactical game plan," he said.

"From the second quarter I think it was a moment of lacking mental fitness from our side- our girls started to lack confidence and we gave Fiji confidence to counter us, but in the last quarter we managed to correct the mistake, but it was too late. It was a bad day at the office. “We just need to go back to the drawing board. We only have one game left and it’s a must win."

Going into yesterday's match both teams were fighting for a win since Fiji ranked 19th were also coming from a narrow defeat against Tonga in their Friday opener.

The Gems started off well with a 14-12 lead in the first quarter, but they failed to keep up the momentum as the match progressed.

The partnership of Nalani Makunde and Tafadzwa Matura were again in the shooting circle yesterday with the former netting 10 goals while Matura scored four.

Going into the second quarter, the Gems made a single change on wing-defence where Claris Kwaramba came in for Sharleen Makusha.

Fiji kept the Gems on their toes before taking 26-25 lead to the break.

It was in the third quarter where Fiji stretched their lead against the Gems and in a bid to keep up with their opponent, the Gems technical team made a complete overhaul of the team.

There were changes on almost every position except for the goal-shooter position where Makunde proved to be a strong force in the goal shooting circle, netting a total of 10 goals.

Again, despite all these changes and shifting of positions, the Gems trailed behind, ending the third quarter on 42-35, trailing Fiji by seven goals.

Matura came again in the final quarter on goal attack, partnering with another seasoned goal shooter Sharon Bwanali where the former scored three goals whilst the latter scored 10, but it was not enough.

Team captain, Felisitus Kwangwa was disappointed by the performance.

"As a team we were not clinical enough today. We made a lot of errors and that is the reason why we lost today. It is so disappointing when we have such a big crowd supporting us. Today things didn’t go well on our side," she said.

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