BAD DAY IN THE OFFICE. . . Gems top four target still within reach despite loss

SOMEHOW, this carnage was bound to happen.

Such is the gulf in both class and quality between the Gems and Australia that at the end of the 60 minutes, Zimbabwe would only manage 30 goals to Australia’s 86.

But the result doesn’t condemn the Gems to the Netball World Cup litter bin. Neither does it confirm any inferiorities.

This is only their second appearance at the Netball World Cup.

It’s unfortunate they had to open the campaign against 11-time champions who have been to every Netball World Cup since its inception in 1963.

They had to contain and minimize the damage, which they did in the first quarter but with so much inexperience inside the Cape Town Convention Centre courts, the Zimbabweans eventually crumbled.

There is no time to wonder though as Fiji, who lost their own Pool A opener against Tonga 56-51 yesterday lie in wait.

The Gems face off against the Fijis at the same venue at 9am today.

And the team assistant coach Tatenda Shinya, who insists the Gems gave Australia too much respect, says Zimbabwe’s top-four target at the global showpiece is still within reach.

“We started very well in the opening quarter, matching the Australians ball for ball.

“But once we failed to convert our own chances from the equal number of centre balls, we were creating our own problems,” said Shinya.

“Netball is a very fragile game where you can get punished for missing your own chance. Unfortunately, we missed loads of our own chances and handed the initiative to our opponents.

“I think we gave Australia too much respect. We never really tried to restrict their passing game.

“Of course, Australia is a very big team when it comes to netball but we have a feeling that we should have done better than what we did.

“We were not exactly in the game and we committed too many mistakes.

“But, we do not have much team for the postmortem. We are already looking into our match against Fiji.

“This is an extremely important fixture. We need to up our ante and make sure we come out good”.

Shinya said despite the defeat to Australia, the team can still come good in their remaining two group games and placement matches to nail a top four finish.

“It’s always difficult and bad to lose in your first match at a big tournament like the World Cup. But we should be spirited enough to dust up and be optimistic in our next assignments.

“We have always said that we want to finish in the top four and nothing has changed. We have only encountered a big hump but we are still heading where we are supposed to be going. We have to beat Fiji and Tonga in our pool and we will have a chance to achieve our tournament objectives”.

The Gems started only two players who were at the 2019 World Cup in England four years ago with the rest tasting the stage for the first time.

Initially, Zimbabwe looked to absorb everything thrown at them by the giants with great honour.

Buoyed by a raucous band of flag waving and singing fans, the Gems should have felt very much at home in their opening encounter of the jamboree being staged on African soil for the first time.

With Beaula Hlungwani and Nicole Muzanenhamo engineering perfect moves from mid-court, the Gems appeared well on their way to causing a major upset.

But once Tafadzwa Matura and Nalan Makunde fluffed key opportunities to allow Australia to take the lead, there was no way back for them.

They were nine points adrift of the Diamonds at the end of the opening quarter after managing to score 11 times.

But the gap would widen in the second quarter when the Gems appeared to be tiring up to allow their opponents to carry a healthy 41-18 lead to the half-time break.

Once Australia managed to take their tally to 62 while they added only six from the second quarter going to the end of the penultimate 15 minutes, the focus was to try and minimize the damage in the final quarter.

But in trying to contain the Australians, Zimbabwe made huge mistakes to literally hand over the game to the Oceanians on an 86-30 score line.

Gems captain Felistas Kwangwa said Zimbabwe handed the match to Australia without putting up a real fight.

“I think we didn’t do enough. We needed to press a lot more. But we didn’t. We had a chance to match the Australians but it wasn’t to be,” she said.

“We can’t cry over spilt milk. We have to refocus on our next match against Fiji. We have targets to chase and we have to be very focused.

“We need to strategize for our match against Fiji. It’s not going to be an easy fixture so we need to retain maximum concentration”.

Yesterday’s loss also means that the Gems lost out on the R50 000 bonus that had been promised by funeral services company Zororo-Phumulani which is powered by Doves Zimbabwe.

*Netball World Cup coverage proudly sponsored by Herentals Group of Colleges and Zororo-Phumulani.


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