Malawi beaten 40-35 by South Africa in the final of the Diamond Challenge
Malawi national netball team lost to South Africa Friday 40-35 in the final of the Diamond Challenge at the Ugo Sports Centre in Margate, South Africa.
The Queens put up a gallant fight but the absence of Mwawi Kumwenda, who is one of the world’s best shooters, cost Malawi the victory as poor shooting proved to be the Queens’ Achilles Heel again.
Eager to prove a point, the Queens made a bright start to the match with goal shooter Sindie Simtowe continuing where she left off against Zambia, helping the Queens go four up early in the first quarter.
The Queens’ defence comprising Caroline Mtukule- Ngwira, Towera Vinkhumbo and Grace Mwafulirwa was also alert, winning all the rebounds and making five interceptions compared to South Africa’s one in the first quarter.
The Queens were also more accurate than South Africa, only missing one basket from their attempts.
The Queens eventually won the first quarter 11-6.
The Proteas made changes in the second quarter and they attacked the Queens with pace. The Queens started showing signs of panic and they gave away a lot of penalties.
Joyce Mvula also missed the majority of her attempts and this gave the Proteas the impetus to cut the lead to three baskets as they trailed 19-22 at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Proteas came back flat out, buoyed by the home support, and pinned down the Queens in their own half.
The Queens failed to cope with the pressure and lost control in the centre where Takondwa Lwazi and Thandi Galeta could not contain Proteas’ centre court Precious Mthembu.
South Africa made more interceptions and seemed to have awaken from their deep slumber. Out of sorts, the Queens conceded 50 penalties and lost possession frequently.
South Africa took the lead for the first time at 26-25 and they never looked back. The Proteas controlled the match and won the third quarter 31-26 with Potgieter at the top of her game.
The Proteas did their best to maintain a five basket lead in the final quarter to triumph 40-35 and win the 2015 Diamond Challenge.
Queens coach Peace Chawinga decried poor officiation. “It’s not fair to have an umpire from your country officiating your match,” she said. “This has to change.”