Netball World Cup: Malawi remains undefeated after a 59-53 win over Uganda
Malawi fine run at Netball World Cup continued today as it remains undefeated after a 59-53 win over Uganda in Sydney.
Despite a strong Uganda comeback in the fourth quarter, Malawi led by star attacker Mwai Kumwenda, outwitted their African opponents and held on for a six-goal, 59-53 win in their first qualification round match on Tuesday.
Malawi started impressively as they scored four early goals through Kumwenda (48/53), and despite missing some early shots, was able to pick up her own rebounds and convert. The Ugandan defence were able to reach plenty of tips, but were unable to take possession as the ball flew out of court. Strong defence on the centre pass saw Uganda use their wing defence and goal defence heavily on the centre pass, forcing Proscovia (38/39) to come out of the circle on the second phase and confuse space, which the experienced Malawi defenders capitalised on. The quick release from Sindi Simtowe (11/13) to find Kumwenda was again on show, as their understanding combined with precise circle edge feeds from centre Takondwa Lwazi to extend Malawi’s lead out to 10 goals at quarter time.
Uganda added Florence Nanyonga and Lilian Ajio to their defensive line-up for the second quarter but it made little impact to slow the rampant Malawi attack. While Simtowe and Kumwenda shared the shooting load, Proscovia became Uganda’s main source to goal as goal attack Racheal Nanyonga (15/18) is forced to work hard outside the circle to support their midcourt. Ugandan goal keeper Florence Nanyonga continued to contest against her much taller opponent but Uganda were unable to push ahead.
While Malawi opted to make no changes at three-quarter time, Uganda introduced Halima Nakachwa to wing attack and moved Ruth Meeme to centre. The switch made an instant impact, with Meeme offering more defensively and Nakachwa finding easier passage to the circle, allowing Proscovia to remain in the circle where she was at her most dangerous. Malawi held on to win the quarter by just one goal, largely thanks to the defensive efforts of keeper Towera Vinkumbo.
Uganda continued their safe ball use and strong defensive effort into the final quarter, whittling the difference back to nine goals before Malawi called an injury time out. The time seemed to make little difference, with Uganda continuing to turn the ball over and convert through the strong drives from their midcourt. Malawi were tenacious in defence, but Meeme and Nakachwa remained composed, cutting and driving to deliver good ball to Proscovia, while goal keeper Nanyonga battled with Kumwenda under the post. But the difference ended up being too great and despite winning the quarter by eight goals, it was not enough to beat the fifth-ranked Malawi.