Pretoria, South Africa - Botswana edged out Zambia by 59 goals to 41 in the four nations Netball Diamond Challenge in Pretoria on Friday evening.
It was Botswana’s first victory, after successive loses to Malawi and South Africa, while Zambia are still without a win. The two teams will meet again on Saturday in the third/fourth place playoff game.
The first quarter saw the two teams evenly matched and while Zambia had more of the possession, Botswana had a two point advantage, going into the first break at 14-12. Botswana went ahead in the next quarter, scoring 16 points to Zambia’s nine but it was not without a fight. The Zambians still had the better of their opponents when it came to ball possession but missed more goals than their opponents. The third quarter started slowly but the deficit between the two teams began to increase. Botswana had more of the ball, for the first time in the match, and outscored their opponents, leading 43-31 overall. Botwana dominated in the final segment of the match, scoring 16 points against Zambia’s 10, thanks to player of the match Botswana’s goal shooter Beauty Letsholo.
Letsholo said she had joked with her team mates earlier about winning the R1000 Tsogo Sun Player of the Match cheque when they arrived at the stadium. “I am so happy with the way we played tonight and for me it was a dream come true,” Letsholo said afterwards. “We spoke about what went wrong in our two previous games and we decided we needed to support each other more. “Instead of shouting at each other when something went wrong, we should rather encourage each other. “Tomorrow it won’t be easy playing Zambia again as they will come out equally determined to beat us and our main focus will be to protect our world ranking (16).”
A disheartened Zambian captain Annie Mukamba said her team were disappointed with their performance against Botswana and they had played a far better match against the SPAR Proteas on Thursday. “Our youngsters rely on the more experienced players and tonight those were the players that let us down,” Mukamba said. “We beat Botswana when we played them in February, so we had expected to win this match. “Perhaps we underestimated them but we struggled from the start.” She said they had learned a few things about their opponents and hoped to do better when they meet them on court again in the playoff on Saturday. “We will work on our mistakes and definitely improve our performance tomorrow,” she said. “We plan to come in here feeling strong and full of confidence.”