Pretoria, South Africa - The Malawi Queens showed why they wear the crown in Africa when they thrashed Zambia 75-32 in the opening match of the inaugural Netball Diamond Challenge in Pretoria on Wednesday.
Ranked fifth in the world, Malawi came out hard, scoring five unanswered goals within the first few minutes of the game. Goal shooter Mwai Kumwenda scored most of the goals in the first quarter, using her height to maximum advantage.
The Zambians had no answer to Malawi’s speed and style and it did not help their cause when they were reduced to six players when their wing attack left the court injured. The teams went into the first break with Malawi leading at 23 points to five.
Zambia settled down at the start of the second quarter and prevented Malawi running away with the game for a short while. Despite showing signs of creativity, the Zambians lost possession too easily and then when their goal shooter injured her elbow and they were forced to make more changes.
Malawi showed no mercy and made the most of the incident, outscoring Zambia by 23 goals to seven, with the points at 41-12 at half-time.
The Zambians grew in confidence as the match progressed but lacked coordination in the middle.
Malawi continued to dominate in the third quarter and extended their lead to 38 goals. With the score on 58-20 at the start of the final quarter, the Queens took their foot off the pedal slightly, allowing the Zambians to enjoy their best quarter, scoring 12 goals.
Despite their huge win, the Malawian captain Grace Mwafulirwa said the team had not played their best netball. “We were not that good as we had three new players in the team and they lacked experience,” Mwafulirwa said after the match. “We didn’t play to our own style and we allowed Zambia too many blind passes which we weren’t able to stop. “We are still confident though and we will improve with each game we play.”
Zambian captain Annie Mukamba said they lacked control in the middle of the court but improved as the game went along. “We were very weak in the middle and lacked control in midfield,” Mukamba said. “We allowed Malawi to easily intercept our balls but our performance improved in the second half and our shooters became sharper.”