Gems WC campaign in tatters

IT is as bad as they come.

The writing was on the wall even before the start of this decisive Netball World Cup final Pool A match which the Gems lost 55-46 to Tonga at the Cape Town International Convention Centre last night.

The defeat all but condemned Zimbabwe to the bottom four placement matches in this 16-team global fiesta.

Having lost their opening two matches to Australia (86-30) and Fiji (52-48), the Gems needed to clip a win in last night’s game to stand a chance of progressing to the Super Six.

Australia had done them a huge favour by beating Fiji 101-32 in an earlier game meaning all the Gems needed was a win even by the smallest of margins to ensure progress to the next round.

But the girls looked unfit and unprepared to fight for the cause as they allowed seventh-ranked Tonga to bully them willy-nilly.

They never stepped up to the plate and questions have started to be asked whether this group is the best that Zimbabwe could take to the World Cup stage.

Zimbabwe went into the global contest aiming to finish in the top four, building on their eighth place attainment in their debut World Cup in England four years ago.

But now they cannot even fight for a place within the top 12 after they were relegated to fight for 13th to 16th places following last night’s defeat.

The Gems needed a leader on the courts and outside it but never found one.

Although they looked very much poised to compete in the early stages of the opening quarter, as has been the script throughout this failed campaign, the Gems would soon tire and allowed Tonga to dictate the pace of the game.

“I think we committed too many unnecessary mistakes. We literally threw this match away,” said Goal Keeper Elizabeth Mushore.

“It’s a match we should have won. We conceded too many turnovers and we were duly punished. It’s sad, very sad to have been eliminated from the main competition if I may say.

“We can now only hope to finish 13th in the tournament”.

The girls looked both physically and mentally unfit and they were always second to most of the loose balls.

While giving away turnovers rather cheaply, they were not as good in grabbing theirs too.

In the rare occasions they forced Tonga to surrender possession, the Gems shooters of Joyce Takaidza and Sharon Bwanali were found wanting.

Surprisingly, Goal Shooter Nalani Makunde, who has been the silver lining in this dark campaign, was benched and she only came on in the last quarter.

Although she brought some much needed proficiency, it was a little too late as Tonga had all but wrapped the victory that helped them finish second in the group topped by World’s best Australia.

Fiji finished third and the Gems were last after failing to post any win in three games.

Zimbabwe will be hoping to put in the work in the number 13 to 16 placement matches to at least salvage some pride.

“It’s now a matter of defending our dignity. We have failed the nation and we apologise for that.

“We wanted to do better than we did in Liverpool in 2019 but it wasn’t to be,” she said.

“The match against Tonga was a must-win but we failed. We were in the game but lost concentration at some key stages.

“We have to make sure that we win the placement games to finish on position 13”.

Zimbabwe take on Trinidad and Tobago in their first placement game at 9am today.


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