Straight from a loss to Australia, the Malawi Queens gathered momentum to rule over in-form Zimbabwe inflicting a 59-43 win in the Vitality World Netball Cup in Liverpool, England.
The Queens had a sloppy start in the first quarter giving away the first-minutes lead before they fought back to take over and secure a third-place finish in the Group F.
After missing the previous match, Joyce Mvula, Takondwa Lwazi and Towera Vinkhumbo were brought back in the game.
Mvula was the shooter alongside Jane Chimaliro as goal attacker, Bridget Kumwenda as wing attacker while Lwazi resumed her ball distribution duties at the centre.
Vinkhumbo also took charge of the goalkeeping, where alongside Caroline Mtukule-Ngwira as goal defender turned into a stumbling block for Zimbabwe’s shooter Joice Takaidza.
Slowly Zimbabwe started losing the tempo and Malawi snatched a lead in the first quarter to finish 11-8.
With no changes made in the second quarter, the Queens had created a ten-score gap by half time with 28 scores up.
By the end of third quarter Malawi were leading 43-29.
A sigh of relief for coach Griffin Saenda who could now make substitutions by resting Lwazi for Thandie Galeta and Loreen Ngwira going in for Vinkhumbo.
Zimbabwe will live to remember the blocks made by Vinkhumbo, no wonder she was named player of the match.
Vinkhumbo said they were prepared for the match knowing well that it was not going to be easy.
“We really wished we would beat them. I have been observing them and was ready to mark them tight. We wanted to do better all the remaining games. Winning the games would help us return to our sixth position,” Vinkhumbo said.
Queens assistant coach, Whyte Mulilima said experience from the Africa championship and previous World Cup played a very big role in the victory over debutantes Zimbabwe on top of the players’ commitment.
He said the players played like a team and flowed like water.
The losing coach, Lloyd Makunde said: “We lost concentration. Malawi is a good side and they are more experienced than us. We play a similar game and it was difficult for us to outplay them,”
Australia lead the group with eight points after narrowly beating second placed New Zealand 50-49.
New Zealand have eight points followed by Queens with six points while Zimbabwe have four points.
Northern Ireland are fifth with two points while Barbados anchor the table with no point.
Malawi will meet Uganda who lost to Jamaica on Wednesday evening for an opportunity to fight for fifth and sixth place. Jamaica will take on Zimbabwe.
Malawi will be looking to exact revenge on the Cranes to whom they lost narrowly at the 2018 Africa Netball championship. The bruised Queens also lost their 6th place position on the International Netball Federation INF rankings to Uganda.
The top two from Group F Australia and New Zealand and the top two from Group G England and South Africa have moved on to the semi-finals.