Ellina Mhlanga, Harare Bureau
AFTER a false start to their campaign at the ongoing Africa Netball Cup, Zimbabwe had a good day on the court yesterday, winning their two matches for the day against Kenya and Lesotho at Bellville Velodrome in Cape Town, South Africa, yesterday.
Zimbabwe first beat Kenya 68-35 in the morning to claim their first win of the tournament. They then went on to dismiss Lesotho 79-22 in their second game of the day.
The Gems’ participation at the continental showpiece has been marred with some confusion and poor planning by the Zimbabwe Netball Association that led to the team failing to arrive in Cape Town in time for their opening encounter against Uganda on Friday and they were walked over.
They then lost to South Africa 69-39 on Saturday before they picked themselves up yesterday to grab two victories.
Coach Ropafadzo Mutsauki said the win against Kenya was a relief and gave confidence to the players that were demoralised after failing to fulfill their first encounter against Uganda on Friday.
And going into their game against hosts South Africa, regarded as one of the powerhouses on the continent, it was always going to be difficult for a team that only met for a few days just before their departure for the tournament.
The confusion and uncertainty surrounding Zimbabwe’s participation did not help the situation for a team competing at this level.
“Overall the team played well yes but that’s where I got the opportunity to try my combinations to have more combinations so that we have several options.
“This win is very important for the team that started because there are several changes in the team which has helped us to get two or three combinations and helped us to get results. Since we didn’t have enough time to train together we will keep trying and I hope we can get something positive.
“This win is very important… It has boosted their confidence. After losing the first game it demoralised the players but right now from the look of things the girls are doing well,” said Mutsauki.
In their first game against Kenya, it was goal-to-goal in the early stages of the first quarter before Zimbabwe took charge in the dying minutes to take a 16-10 lead.
The Gems upped their game in the second quarter with captain Felistus Kwangwa and goal keeper Queen Sigauke giving a good account of themselves in defence as Zimbabwe restricted Kenya to just four goals in this quarter while they netted 23 goals.
Zimbabwe went into the half-time break leading by 25 goals.Goal shooter Joice Takaidza ensured Zimbabwe maintained their lead and enjoyed a good combination with goal attack Sharon Bwanali and later on Ursula Ndlovu.
In their second game against Lesotho, Zimbabwe dominated from the onset, going into the half-time break leading 42-9. Despite making several unforced errors in the last two quarters, the Gems were the better team of the day and sealed their second win of the tournament after four games.
They will take on Zambia this afternoon.
Mutsauki said it’s a different game against Zambia today but is optimistic.
“We will fight until the last whistle. Zambia play fast game so we will try to hold them at the middle because their shooters are very fast and have movement, fast movement,” Mutsauki told SuperSport after the game against Lesotho.