Brighton Zhawi in GABORONE, Botswana
THE Zimbabwe netball Gems are the new African champions after easing past Tanzania in their final round-robin match at the Botswana Netball Courts in Gaborone yesterday.
The Gems completed their unbeaten run in this fifth edition of the tournament with a facile 37-28 win over Tanzania.
After waking up to sad news that forward player Netsai Muchemwa had lost her brother, the Zimbabwe team showed great mettle to finish the job at hand.
Muchemwa left for Harare yesterday morning, two days after team manager Petronella Gonye also returned home after the death of her mother-in-law.
After the final whistle, the team’s celebrations were muted as energetic centre Ndaizivei Madzikangava was injured after landing on her elbow.
She was taken for a scan soon after the match.
Zimbabwe had a decent start, winning the first set 11-8, but they did not play their best game.
Passing was wayward at times and that affected the mid-court play with little co-ordination, but most importantly, the result was in their favour.
The second stanza was similar to the first with frequent loss of possession by both sides, although Zimbabwe led 19-14 at half time.
They maintained control of the match with the help of some awful shooting by their opponents, and it was no surprise that they clinched the third set 30-18.
Tanzania threw everything at Zimbabwe in the deciding set as they sought their first win of the tournament.
They were given hope when Zimbabwe’s wing defence Yvonne Madzikangava was sent out by the umpire for persistent fouls.
She set out for three goals and when she returned, her sister Ndaizivei went the opposite way following the elbow injury.
Tanzania won the last set 8-7, but that was not enough to stop the Gems from claiming their first African Championship title.
The Gems began their campaign with a 49-35 win over Swaziland, followed by a 47-47 stalemate with hosts Botswana and then a 51-49 triumph over Zambia. — Sportszone