Gems date Botswana in Netball WC qualifier

Online |  1 month ago | sport

GEMS skipper Felisitus Kwangwa is bullish that the Zimbabwe senior national netball team will secure a 2023 World Cup slot when they play in their opening qualifying game against Botswana this afternoon in Pretoria, South Africa.

The game is at 1pm and would be screened live on the SuperSport television channel.

The African World Cup qualifiers got underway yesterday in the neighbouring country with nine countries battling out for two slots available for next year’s global tournament.

The best two countries from the qualifiers will join South Africa and Uganda who have already qualified for the global tournament as hosts and through their world ranking respectively.

South Africa are also the hosts of the 2023 Netball World Cup. Surrey Storm defender Kwangwa believes they are ready to claim a World Cup slot. Zimbabwe made their maiden appearance at the 2019 Vitality World Cup, in Liverpool, England.

“We have really worked hard for this tournament and as a team, we are really geared to go and claim our slot for the 2023 Netball World Cup,” said Kwangwa.

“I am so happy, we actually had enough time to prepare as compared to what we have done previously. I think the coaches are actually satisfied with the performance that we have been displaying, and actually certain that the skills that they have taught us all the way from March, we have grasped them and should help us win against our opponents,” said Kwangwa.

According to the re-arranged fixture released on Friday, Zimbabwe are now going to start their campaign against Botswana instead of Tanzania today.

They will then face Namibia tomorrow before taking on Tanzania and South Africa on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.

Pool B is now made up of four teams, namely Eswatini, Malawi, Kenya and Zambia. African heavyweights Uganda have pulled out of the qualifiers.

The top two teams in each pool proceed to the semi-finals.

Kwangwa says they will not fuss about the things that they don’t have control over such as a relatively shorter height compared to all their opponents who have taller players.

“In terms of height, it’s something that we cannot change, it is just natural, we don’t have the height that other teams have but we will try to use our speed to try and maneuver our way,” she said.

Kwangwa says although the opening match will set the tone for the tournament, they are treating all the pool games equally.

“In every competition, every team comes well prepared so I know it is going to be a tough match, so I think mentally as a team we are prepared for such things.

“Every game is actually important, and we are going to face all our fixtures fearlessly,” said Kwangwa.

The Gems were unfazed by the travel arrangements that left them with limited time to rest after arriving in the Gauteng Province by road two days before their first game.

“Life is a bit unfair and everyone has such phases in life. This is not going to shake us as a team, we are going to remain focused. We are used to travelling by road. I know if all goes well we would also want to fly (to important fixtures).

“But at this moment in time we are just focused on our game, how are going to get there doesn’t matter, what matters is to be there for the World Cup qualifiers,” said Kwangwa.

The Gems were sent off by Spar Zimbabwe, one of their partners, who branded the bus the team travelled with to South Africa.

The Gems went into bed with Spar Zimbabwe this year and have been receiving support in their bid to qualify for the World Cup for the second time.

Spar Zimbabwe are a long-time partner of ZOC. Before departure, Spar Zimbabwe presented the Gems with tracksuits, golf T-shirts, two sets of netball dresses, caps and headbands worth US$6 000.

Spar Zimbabwe Responsible Retailing coordinator, Shamiso Pfumayaramba, wished the team well.

“As Spar Zimbabwe, we are rallying behind the Gems as part of our responsible retailing, we want to make sure that we empower women.

The Gems are already doing it and giving hope to the girl child that netball is a sport to reckon with.

“Our message to the Gems is don’t lose the faith, whatever happens, we will continue to support them,” said Pfumayaramba.