The Sunday News
Chipo Sabeta in Liverpool, England
AFTER an anticipated fall against reigning World Cup champions, Australia at M&S Arena, the Zimbabwe senior netball coach Lloyd Makunde says their last Netball World Cup group clash against Northern Ireland is a must-win.
Zimbabwe, the only debutants at the World Cup started on a high note when they beat Sri Lanka 79- 49 on Friday before a spirited performance, but ultimately fell short of victory, losing 73-37 to the world number one.
Northern Ireland earned their first win at the World Cup as they beat Sri Lanka 67-50 yesterday after an 88-24 defeat against Australia in their tournament opener.
“They (Australia) thought it was going to be a walk over against an African team and debutants at the World Cup.
For neutrals, it was a good match but as the Gems coach I am content with this result.
To score over 35 goals against Australia is an achievement and to manage their game and concede less than 80 goals is remarkable.
I think we played well despite a few mistakes we made, probably due to fear and panic in the first quarter,” Makunde said.
Zimbabwe had a slow start and began to grow into the contest, creating more scoring opportunities that Joice Takaidza converted, finishing the quarter with eight goals.
In the second quarter, the Gems reduced the deficit to six goals, but Australia responded and increased their lead to 14 midway through the quarter.
Zimbabwe replaced Takaidza and Ursula Ndlovu with Pauline Jani and Sharon Bwanali at half-time and it had a positive impact as the pair combined to score eight times in the opening period of the third quarter.
After their heavy defeat to Australia yesterday, Northern Ireland bounced back by claiming their first victory of the tournament, beating Sri Lanka 67-50 in the other game in Group A.
Makunde is expecting a tough contest but he is optimistic that his girls will bounce back to winning ways.
“We have a chance to bounce back and we will come out guns blazing.
We will be facing opponents we match in terms of height but our pacey game will work at our advantage.
I think we need to take advantage of our smaller stature and use a lot of bounce passes and get around the body.
We might change our wing attack players and go for the fast ones,” he added.
Buoyed by Zimbabwe fantastic support once again, Makunde believe their 12th man will help them win.
Australia coach, Lisa Alexander’s praised Zimbabwe.
“The back-and-forth action confirmed that we were playing a very competitive side. They can improve and become a force to reckon at this stage.
Their defence was tight.
It was hard to put the high ball in because they had really long reach although they had their forthcomings in utilising chances.
“It’s looking good for them and their fans are difficult to ignore.
I can only wish them the best all the way,” Alexander said.